Somalia Islamists lift ban on aid agencies to help drought victims
MOGADISHU (BNO NEWS) — Somalia’s militant Islamist group Al-Shabab on Wednesday announced that they were lifting a ban on international and local aid agencies as a severe drought hits the country, RBC radio reported.
“Al-Shabab movement declares today that any aid agency could operate in Somalia whether it’s a Muslim or Non-Muslim agency if they do not hide some special purposes unlike the humanitarian”, the group’s spokesman, Sheikh Ali Mahamud Rage, said in a press conference held in Mogadishu.
“We are standing by to provide any assistance they need if their exact desire is helping the drought affected people”.
Al-Shabab imposed the ban in 2009, alleging the foreign aid agencies are pro-Somalia government.
The announcement comes as the Horn of Africa is hit by its worst drought in 60 years. The United Nations humanitarian agency, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), estimated that 10 million people across the Horn of Africa are facing a severe food crisis following a prolonged drought in the region.
According to the UN, more than 61,000 Somalis have arrived to Kenya this year alone; 27,000 of them in June. Somali refugees have also been fleeing to Ethiopia, as 55,000 have arrived since the beginning of the year. In addition, 26 percent of them arrived malnourished with the malnutrition rate among children estimated at three in five.
In total, there are more than 750,000 Somali refugees in countries in the region, mostly in neighboring Kenya (which hosts 405,000), Yemen (187,000) and Ethiopia (130,000). There also are about 1.46 million internally displaced people within Somalia.
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