Fallujah families 'desperate for food'

Fallujah - The Iraqi Red Crescent Society on Thursday was able for the first time to deliver aid directly to families stranded by fighting in Fallujah after a United States-led offensive to wrest the Sunni-Muslim city from insurgents.

A single Red Crescent team delivered food and water to five families in a battered northern Fallujah neighbourhood, an AFP photographer reported, after US Marines patrolling the area found them hiding in their homes.

The Red Crescent estimates that only 150 to 175 families remained in Fallujah after the start of the US-led offensive on November 8, and civilians living in the ruined city have become desperate for water and blankets.

Red Crescent officials met Thursday with US Marine Lieutenant Colonel Gary Montgomery to discuss co-operative aid efforts.

Red Crescent convoys had been able to enter Fallujah on Wednesday and Monday, but only toured the city and said they were unable to move freely and find any of the civilians who needed assistance.

Red Crescent efforts to assist civilians still in Fallujah have been frustrated by ongoing military operations, and the agency's co-ordinator for Fallujah, Jotiar Nafaa, said getting out into the city to assess how many people need help is the organization's first priority.

"It should start going better," Montgomery said after Thursday's meeting. "We weren't getting the information we needed from them so they weren't getting what we needed from us and were getting frustrated." - Sapa-AFP

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