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Ear to the Ground

Militant Group Blocks Aid in Somalia

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Posted on Jul 23, 2011
Flickr / Oxfam East Africa (CC-BY)

Faduma Hussein Yagoub, a Somali refugee, came with her family to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya on a donkey cart. Her husband and two of her five young children died of hunger on the way. Despite the dangers, thousands of refugees are making the journey every week.

The World Food Program and other such aid organizations have been unable to reach 2.2 million famine victims in militant-controlled areas of Somalia. In fact, the militant group al-Shabab denies that a famine is happening at all.

In early July, al-Shabab gave aid groups the impression that they would be allowed in after having been banned previously. But in more recent statements, al-Shabab said it refuses to accept aid from Western and “Christian” groups, meaning millions of starving people may be forced to hike for days to receive aid in refugee camps in Kenya, Ethiopia or Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. —BF

The Associated Press:

WFP can’t operate without the militant’s permission; 14 WFP employees have been killed there since 2008. Sheeran called Somalia “the riskiest environment we operate in the world today.”

Al-Shabab signaled in early July that it would accept aid groups it had previously banned, but changed course on Thursday, saying groups like WFP are not welcome. The group’s refusal to accept aid from Western and “Christian” aid groups means millions could starve — or be forced to begin the hike to help to Kenya, Ethiopia or Mogadishu, the Somali capital, which is also being overwhelmed with refugees.

“We know that the epicenter of this famine and drought are in Somalia. We are able to reach about 1.5 million people in Somalia. But there’s about 2.2 million people that are not able to be reached,” Sheeran told The Associated Press. “We welcome the opening to look to ways to reach people. We’ll talk with local authorities and we’ll act where we can go.”

Steering clear of the sensitive politics, Sheeran did not use the word al-Shabab. But it was clear that’s what “local authorities” meant.

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EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, July 25, 2011 at 3:03 am Link to this comment

Bribe them.

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By Woody McBreairty, July 24, 2011 at 3:20 pm Link to this comment
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Of course they should be helped as much as possible, they they should be taught birth control, even if it’s involuntary sterilization These people are reproducing like flies. Young poverty stricken women without husbands, holding three babies with other babies lying around on the ground with flies crawling in and out of their noses and ears. It is insanity. All the food and water in the world is not the answer to the problem here. These people have no sense of personal responsibility or obligation to themselves or each other.  What on earth is the sense of producing so many babies to live in poverty and sickness then die in so short a time.  It is time for aid organizations to include birth control in their aid programs.

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