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Friday, July 22, 2011

Aid ban in Somalia still in place, Islamist militants say

CNN Wire

July 22, 2011
(CNN) -- Islamist militants in Somalia have reversed a pledge to allow foreign aid agencies to operate in famine-struck regions in the nation.

''The lift of ban on aid agencies doesn't include the agencies that we banned earlier in areas we control because those agencies don't do relief work, they are spies and work on political agendas'," Al Shabaab spokesman Ali Mohamud Raage said Thursday on their radio station, Al Furqaan.

His announcement reverses a pledge he made earlier this month saying militants would allow aid groups to operate in areas their control.

The ban included various aid groups, including the United Nations Development Programme, World Food Programme and CARE International.

Raage accused the groups of having a political agenda in declaring a famine in Somalia.

''The U.N. said that there is famine in Somalia, that is not true, it is a lie and they are politicizing the issue," he said. "We only have drought in Somalia, not famine."

Aid groups issued an urgent appeal this week for international aid, saying Somalia faces a famine that has left half of the population in dire need.

"Nearly 3.7 million people are now in crisis," U.N Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

Aid agencies estimate that 10 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda and Somalia are at risk of famine.

Al Shabaab originally banned many foreign aid organizations from providing aid in southern Somalia in 2009, describing them as Western spies and Christian crusaders.


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