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Aid flights land in Liberia

Aid agencies say tens of thousands are desperate for food.
Aid agencies say tens of thousands are desperate for food.

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MONROVIA, Liberia (CNN) -- The first plane carrying emergency food landed in Liberia as peace keeping troops arrived in the war-torn country.

Save the Children, one of the UK's leading charities, plans to take 30 tonnes of supplies to Monrovia later Monday.

About 900 children -- including those at an orphanage -- were set to receive supplies of high-energy biscuits on the first day of the aid mission, Save the Children spokesman Brendan Paddy told the UK Press Association.

"The fighting has continued this morning in parts of the city but we are still intending to do distributions," he said. "On day one we are hoping to reach some 900 children who we have identified as being particularly vulnerable."

The first batch of half a tonne of high energy biscuits arrived in the city on Saturday from Sierra Leone, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said Sunday. The consignment was part of an emergency operation to fly food aid into Monrovia, where hundreds of thousands of people desperately need assistance after two weeks of fighting.

Another 11.5 tonnes will be flown in over the next few days, the Rome-based agency said in a statement.

"This is the first time WFP has been able to move food into Monrovia since the latest fighting erupted and will help us to save the lives of thousands of malnourished people," said Manuel Aranda da Silva, WFP's regional director for West Africa.

But aid agencies are hoping the peace keeping troops sent by the Economic Community of West African States can restore order to help the distribution of food, medicine and clothing.

"The main thing they can do is to ensure that the fighting stops so we can get on with our work more freely and to provide protection not to the agencies but to the civilians because at the moment the civilians are completely at the mercy of the armed groups," Paddy said.

He said the aid operation faced a serious threat from looters in the city which has been almost entirely cut off from clean water and food supplies.

"There's a serious risk of looting. We could be faced with a situation where soldiers are trying to take high-energy biscuits away from children."


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