Page last updated at 23:55 GMT, Monday, 14 September 2009 00:55 UK

WFP to shut Somalia food centres

By Martin Plaut
BBC Africa analyst

A Somali child eats near Mogadishu. Photo: August 2009
One child in five in Somalia is acutely malnourished, the UN says

The World Food Programme (WFP) is closing 12 feeding centres for mothers and children in Somalia.

The WFP says it has simply run out of money and now has to make cuts.

The decision has been made despite the ongoing crisis in Somalia, and the WFP says the reductions are now hitting people across east Africa.

Despite the depth of the need, the WFP says the international community has failed to rally round with the funding it requires.

Severe drought

The decision to close the feeding centres in Somalia was particularly difficult for the World Food Programme.

But Peter Smerdon, a WFP spokesman in Nairobi, Kenya, says the organisation had little option.

It had only received 40% of the funding needed for the year ahead.

The cuts could hardly have come at a more serious moment - the conflict in Somalia has driven tens of thousands to flee from their homes.

And the country is also suffering from a severe drought.

As a result the UN estimates that more than three million Somalis need food aid - half the total population.

Put another way, one child in five is acutely malnourished, yet the WFP is having to close the services on which they depend.

Nor is it just in Somalia that these cuts are being made.

In neighbouring Kenya the organisation is running out of food. And in Ethiopia and Uganda services are being restricted.

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