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TOO MUCH PUBLICITY PROMPTS U.N. TO DELAY AIRDROPS OF FOOD IN SOMALIA

The United Nations is postponing aidrops of food to rural areas because of concerns that too many starving people might come to the drop sites.

The World Food Program, a Rome-based U.N. agency, had hoped to begin airdropping food to villages last week and initially postponed the effort to better organize the operation on the ground.However, an agency official said Sunday that the operation had been hampered by advance publicity, which threatened to draw thousands of hungry Somalis to airdrop sites. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.

Aid agencies would like to get food to villages to keep starving people from making long, debilitating treks to larger towns, which have been receiving hundreds of tons of relief supplies.

Somalia has fallen into anarchy since the ouster of President Mohammed Siad Barre in January 1991.

Drought and warfare have killed at least 100,000 Somalis this year, and the United Nations says another 2 million could die in weeks if sufficient food is not delivered soon.

U.N. officials who ended a three-day tour of the country on Saturday promised more food aid plus greater efforts to get seed, medicines and vaccines to the nation's starving.

Several countries have joined the international effort to save Somalis from starvation. The United States is helping aid organizations by flying in food.