Al-Shabab Bans U.N., Other Aid Agencies From Working In Somalia; U.N. SG Condemns Actions

“Al-Shabab rebels banned some U.N. and international aid agencies from working in Somalia on Monday and began seizing and looting some of their offices in southern and central areas of the country, the Islamist group and aid sources said,” Reuters reports (Ahmed et al., 11/28). “Among the agencies al-Shabab banned on Monday were UNICEF, the World Health Organization, UNHCR, the Norwegian Refugee Council, the Danish Refugee Council, German Agency For Technical Cooperation (GTZ), Action Contre la Faim, Solidarity, Saacid and Concern,” the Associated Press/Washington Post notes (11/28). In a statement, al-Shabab, “[t]he main Islamist insurgent group in Somalia, which is still in the throes of a major food crisis classified as famine in some regions, … accus[ed] them of ‘illicit activities and misconduct,'” IRIN writes (11/28). “The al-Shabab statement accused the groups of exaggerating the scale of the problems in Somalia for political reasons and to raise money,” according to BBC News (11/28)

“The closure of the humanitarian agencies in Somalia could have a detrimental effect on tens of thousands of people,” as “more than 250,000 people face imminent starvation and millions more are in danger,” International Business Times writes (Tovrov, 11/28). The WHO “said on Tuesday its offices in southern Somalia were looted during rebel raids while … UNICEF said its base in the area remained occupied,” Agence France-Presse reports (11/29). A statement from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he “condemns, in the strongest possible terms,” al-Shabab’s “seizure of property and equipment” and said “[t]his brazen act prevents these organizations from providing life-saving assistance.” The statement “demands that Al-Shabab vacate the premises and return seized property to the affected agencies and [non-governmental organizations]” and for the ban “to be lifted immediately” (11/28).

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