Al-Shabab Says Ban On Aid Groups In Somalia Remains In Place; WFP Announces Resumption Of Airlifts

Two weeks after lifting a ban on certain aid groups providing assistance in Somalia, the militant Islamist group al-Shabab “has announced that the ban remains in place” and said that the U.N.’s declaration of famine in two regions of the country was being used as “propaganda,” Al Jazeera reports (7/22).

The announcement followed a statement by the World Food Program (WFP), one of the agencies banned by al-Shabab, that it plans to begin airlifting aid to the country “within days,” aiming “to reach as many as 2.2 million Somalis,” Bloomberg News writes (Varner, 7/21). “We are testing the ground to see how we can best get life-saving supplies in as quickly as possible to those at the epicentre of the famine in the south,” WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said in a statement on Thursday (7/21).

Also on Thursday, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization announced an emergency meeting to be held on July 25 in Rome, which is expected to be attended “by ministers and senior representatives from its 191 member countries, other U.N. bodies, NGOs and regional development banks,” Reuters notes. “The meeting was called at the request of France, current president of the Group of 20 leading economies,” according to the news agency (7/21). Attendees plan to discuss “how to deliver aid safely and effectively into Somalia,” the Guardian notes (Rice, 7/21).

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