WFP operations in Somalia started to return to normal today after the disruption of the last two weeks.
The United Nations is trying to estimate the levels of displacement of civilians in Somalia caused by fighting amid a gradual increase since last week of new Somali refugees arriving at the Kenyan border crossing point of Liboi to reach refugee camps at Dadaab.
However, most displacement within Somalia appears to have been fairly localized and people moved back home after security was established.
Kenyan officials, however, were quoted on Tuesday as saying the border with Somalia had been sealed. Some 260 Somalis at Liboi were awaiting processing to enter Kenya and reports said at least three vehicles carrying Somalis were turned back by the Kenyan authorities.
UN Common Air Services passenger and cargo flights, which are managed by WFP, resumed last Friday from Nairobi to Somalia and are continuing -- though flights to Mogadishu cannot start until an assessment is carried out by the UN Department of Safety and Security.
National staff relocated by road from the southern port of Kismayo west to Afmadow, Hagar and then on Monday to Buale, which is under the control of the Transitional Federal Government, were flown on Tuesday to WFP's logistics base in the southern Somali town of Wajid.
A total of 10 WFP staff and five other humanitarian workers flew aboard a WFP plane to Wajid. One WFP member of staff stayed behind in Buale to reopen our sub-office.
The flights follow the Transitional Federal Government allowing humanitarian flights to resume after declaring Somalia's land, air and sea borders closed on 25 December.
WFP relief commodities and other items in Somalia are intact while all staff are accounted for.
Two international WFP staff returned to Wajid by UNCAS plane from Nairobi on Monday.
Food distributions to flood-affected people in Afmadow district of southern Somalia resumed on Monday after being suspended on 28 December.
In flood-affected areas, water levels are lower so WFP is exploring the possibility of resuming helicopter operations to reach locations that are still inaccessible by land.
WFP is also investigating the viability of resuming food delivery by boat. It is doubtful that airdrops from the Kenyan port of Mombasa will resume in Somalia given the improved road access and the relative expense of airdrops.
A WFP-chartered ship with 4,500 metric tons of WFP food arrived in Mogadishu on 26 December and started discharging the same day. While the Somali control of the port changed three times – from the Islamic Courts to a sub-clan to the TFG – dock workers continued to unload the vessel and completed their work by Friday night.
On 27 December, WFP announced the suspension of its helicopter operation delivering humanitarian aid from the Somali port of Kismayo and both its air drop operation and passenger flights from Kenya into Somalia.
On 26 December, WFP temporarily relocated two Mi-8 helicopters and 25 humanitarian workers from Kismayo to Nairobi. They included 9 WFP staff (1 national and 8 international), 14 crew members and 2 UN security officers involved in air operations from Kismayo.
On 24 & 25 December, WFP carried out airdrops into Somalia, dropping a total of 28 metric tons of food. WFP still has more than 100 national staff in Somalia operating from 15 offices across the country; they are continuing to distribute food to victims of the floods, the preceding drought and the most vulnerable in other areas.