15 Aug 2011

Creation of special protection force announced

8:22 am on 15 August 2011

Somalia has announced the creation of a special force to protect convoys delivering aid to people affected by drought and famine.

Prime minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali says an initial force of 300 men will also protect camps for the displaced in the capital, Mogadishu.

Mr Ali said the force would have two main jobs:

''Number one is to secure the convoys and to protect food aid, and also to protect the camps when food is distributed,'' he said.

''Second is to stabilise the city and to fight banditry and looting and any sort of untidiness.''

United Nations emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos says improved security in Mogadishu means the UN could now step up relief efforts.

The UN said earlier this week that aid was only reaching 20% of the Somalis who need it.

It says some 12 million people are affected by drought in the region.

The BBC reports security has improved in Mogadishu, although pockets of resistance remain. The al-Shabab group has now withdrawn from most parts of the city, but has vowed to keep on fighting the transitional government.