Conflict & Justice

Al Shabaab bans Red Cross in Somalia


A photo taken on Jan. 19, 2012 shows a Somalia security officer standing guard at an IDP camp for people displaced by famine near Adan Ade airport, in the capital Mogadishu. Regular explosions from the Al Qaeda linked Al Shabaab's guerrilla attacks, including suicide bombers and homemade explosives, still rock the city, where some 180,000 people have fled hunger in the hope of finding aid.


Tony Karumba

Al Shabaab militants have banned the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) from the areas they control in Somalia, ordering it to close emergency-aid centers, the AFP reported.

According to the BBC, Al Shabaab claimed that ICRC falsely accused them of blocking aid and handing out unfit food. Large parts of the north and central Somalia are suffering from a terrible drought, and most of the areas are controlled by Al Shabaab.

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"The International Committee of the Red Cross has repeatedly betrayed the trust conferred on it by the local population and, in the recent weeks, falsely accused the Mujahideen (Shabaab fighters) of hindering food distribution," Al Shabaab said in a statement, Reuters reported.

The ICRC says it has not heard about the ban, but food distribution was stopped earlier this month because militants blocked supply routes, the BBC reported. The agency is still providing emergency care and water programs, however.

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The suspension of the ICRC’s food distribution could worsen the humanitarian crisis already hitting the country, a Somali government minister said, Reuters reported. According to the United Nations, 250,000 Somalis already live in famine conditions and 4 million are in need of aid.

"A thorough inspection of ICRC warehouses and food depots throughout the Islamic Administrations governed by the Mujahideen has revealed that up to 70 percent of the food stored for distribution by the organization was deemed unfit for human consumption," an Al Shabaab statement said, Reuters reported. They accused the ICRC of distributing expired food.

Al Shabaab militants said they set fire "nearly 2,000 metric tons of expired ICRC rations intended for distribution," the AFP reported.

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