Somali rebels maintain aid ban

2011-07-22 22:10

Mogadishu - Somalia's al-Qaeda-inspired insurgents said on Friday a ban on foreign aid groups remained in force and rejected a UN declaration that parts of the country had been hit by famine.

The announcement by Shabaab spokesperson Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage will likely scuttle plans by aid groups to deliver emergency supplies to the rebel-held regions, weeks after the insurgents said they had lifted the ban.

Relief groups had welcomed the easing of the two-year-old ban when the rebels appealed for help in the face of a severe drought that the UN said this week had left the southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions suffering famine.

"Those earlier banned groups are not welcome to serve in our area of control," Rage said in a broadcast on the Islamist Al Furqaan radio.

"There is drought in Somalia but not famine - what is declared by the UN is 100% false," Rage said.

"The declaration of famine is political and is a lie with hidden agendas," he added, admitting only that there is "a shortage of rain".

But the World Food Programme, which pulled out of southern Somali in early 2010, said it will work where possible.

Strict rules

"Al-Shabaab is not a monolithic organisation. Those in control of various parts of the south are not one controlling command," WFP spokesperson Emilia Casella said.

"It's important to note that we're working where we can. We're making plans to work where it's feasible."

The hardline rebels banned several foreign aid agencies from 2009, accusing them of being Western spies and Christian crusaders, and imposed strict rules that effectively impaired any humanitarian work in areas under their control.

They include the WFP, United Nations Development Programme, UN Department of Safety and Security, the UN Political Office for Somalia and UN Mine Action.

Others are World Vision, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency and Diakonia.

False information

Rage, a senior official of the extremist group declared a terrorist organisation by the United States, overruled previous remarks by other Shabaab officials welcoming the famine declaration.

"The declaration by the UN was based on false information and even in the regions they declared famine the UN is not present," Rage charged.

Somalia is the worst affected country in the drought-hit Horn of Africa region, with malnutrition rates the highest in the world.

Tens of thousands have already died in Somalia in recent months, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, while thousands others have fled to seek refuge in neighbouring Ethiopia and Kenya.

Somalia has suffered a relentless civil war since 1991 and the plight of its people is often referred to as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Donors and relief groups said on Thursday they were ready to test Shabaab's pledge to allow aid through.

The WFP announced that it will start flying aid into Mogadishu "within days".


In a sign of the dangers in the conflict-ravaged Somalia, the Shabaab on Thursday abducted a newly appointed women's minister while she was on her way to take up office.

Armed men seized 32-year-old Asha Osman Aqiil in Balad, a day after she was named in an 18-member cabinet in which she is the only female.

Last week, the UN's children fund Unicef made its first aid delivery consisting of five tons of food and medicine to the insurgent-controlled Baidoa town and said that the operation went well.

Some 12 million people in the Horn of Africa are facing starvation triggered by a prolonged drought described as the region's worst in decades.

Donor countries have ramped up aid pledges to assist the drought-stricken millions and UN chief Ban Ki-moon this week urged them to come up with $1.6bn in aid to combat the crisis.

South Africa on Friday pledged R1m ($148 000) for famine relief in Somalia and urged citizens and charities to also make donations to the victims.

France also doubled its aid for the crisis to $14m, a statement said.

Read more on:    un  |  al-shabaab  |  somalia  |  east africa  |  east africa hunger  |  africa drought

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


DA wants to empower fishing communities - Zille

DA leader Helen Zille says the party has a plan for harbours and small-scale fishing communities.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 9380

The first BlackBerry Curve smartphone with a touch screen Stay connected...

From R1799.00

I'm shopping for:


You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.