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Looting is killing Somalia's children, U.S. official says


WASHINGTON -- A Bush administration official has warned that three-quarters of Somalia's children may die in the next six months unless United Nations guards restrain looters enough to let food and medicine reach the starving and sick.

James Kunder of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the first top American official to reach Somalia in a year and a half, described the situation in the ravaged East African country as "the world's worst humanitarian disaster."

Mr. Kunder, who directs AID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, endorsed a U.N. plan to send guards to the Somali capital of Mogadishu to force distribution of the supplies now bottled up in the port by two rival and belligerent tribal sub-clans.

The AID official insisted that lack of security is the main reason Somalis are starving and dying of illness.

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