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Page last updated at 11:06 GMT, Thursday, 7 August 2008 12:06 UK

Canada escort in Somalia welcomed

File photo of the French navy ship Bouan watching over a French yacht hijacked off the coast of Somalia, April 2008
Navy vessels have had to rescue ships and yachts from recent pirate attacks

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed Canada's decision to send a frigate to Somalia to protect ships carrying food aid from pirate attacks.

But a WFP spokesman also called for more naval support, as the Canadian protection is only until September.

Canada's defence minister said a vessel would be diverted from a Nato mission in the Mediterranean to escort WFP ships travelling into Somalian ports.

About 2.5m Somalis rely on food aid, most of which is transported by sea.

The seas off Somalia have some of the highest rates of piracy in the world.

Peter Smerdon, the WFP spokesman in East Africa, told the BBC that the Canadian warship should arrive in the next 10 days.

He said that plans are now being made to ship grain from South Africa to Somalia.

In June, the UN Security Council voted to allow countries to send warships into Somalia's waters to tackle the pirates.

The WFP warned that month that it might have to cut food aid to Somalia after French, Danish and Dutch frigates finished their escort duties.


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