Amid accusations of expired food aid distribution by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Somali militant group al-Shabaab has banned the organization from operating in certain central and southern areas of the country under its control.
In a stream of several messages broadcast on al-Shabaab’s Twitter account, the group announced that it has decided to terminate the ICRC’s contract in certain regions of Somalia after they say ICRC “betrayed the trust conferred upon it by the local population” by distributing expired food.
Although al-Shabaab contends that the distribution of the expired food puts lives at risk, the United Nations and other humanitarian organizations worry that without the ICRC’s assistance, even more Somalis will starve.
"Leaving so many vulnerable Somalis without food will endanger their lives and could also result in pushing a large number of people back into famine, reversing any gains made," Mark Bowden, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, told the Guardian. "We appeal to all factions in Somalia to allow humanitarian actors to reach people most in need, wherever they are."
Somalia is still trying to recover from what has been described as one of the world’s worst famines in the last 20 years. This summer, the country’s critical food shortages were exacerbated by violence between the Somali transitional government, al-Shabaab and other militias.
Al-Shabaab is alleged to have links to Al-Qaeda and has been deemed a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. The group refuses to acknowledge the authority of the country’s transitional government and has wrested control over several areas in central and southern Somalia.
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(Photo: Feisal Omar / Reuters)