Humanity Voice - Al-Shabab allege that the Red Cross was distributing outdated food in Somali



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  Al-Shabab allege that the Red Cross was distributing outdated food in Somali
Humanitarian Voice - 2012-01-31

The Red Cross accused of distributing outdated food in Somali

Somalia's al-Shabab has banned the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), ordering it to close its emergency relief operations in the regions it controls.

The armed Islamist said in a statement on Monday that it had "decided to fully terminate the contract" of the ICRC, claiming the organiation had handed out outdated food and had "falsely accused the mujahideen [al-Shabab] of hindering food distribution".

Al-Shabab control large parts of south and central Somalia, a region the UN says is currently experiencing the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with three areas still categorised as famine zones affecting nearly 250,000 people.

The ICRC had already suspended food aid to 1.1 million people in southern and central Somalia earlier this month, due to obstruction by local armed groups, including in al-Shabab-controlled regions.

The aid suspended included food as well as seeds for farmers, and was intended to be given to the thousands struggling from years of war and the impact of a devastating drought that has ravaged Somalia since October 2010.

However, the ICRC had continued to provide emergency aid including supporting health programmes and providing clean water.

Al-Shabab said the ICRC had "betrayed the trust" of the fighters, and said it had set fire to "nearly 2,000 metric tonnes of expired ICRC rations intended for distribution".

On Twitter, al-Shabab's press office tweeted that the group's Office for Supervising the Affairs of Foreign Agencies said "a thorough inspection of ICRC warehouses revealed that 70 per cent of the food stored for distribution was deemed unfit for human consumption".

New approach to Somalia :
Somalia conflict and its regional political crisis

Somalia, ravaged by nearly uninterrupted civil war for the past two decades, is one of the most dangerous places in the world for aid workers and one of the regions that needs them most.

In February 2012 the United Kingdom will host up to forty governments, the UN and regional bodies like the AU for the London Somalia conference in a bid to resolve the deteriorating situation in Somalia,

In November 2011, al-Shebab ordered shut 16 UN and other international aid agencies after raiding several of their offices, banning organisations it deemed "engaged in activities deemed detrimental to the attainment of an Islamic state".

Those raids left just a handful of aid agencies able to operate in rebel-held areas, including the now-banned ICRC and Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders).

Armies from neighboring countries are converging on al-Shebab, with Kenyan troops crossing into Somalia from the far south in October, and Ethiopian troops marching in from the south and west in November.

The African Union Mission in Somalia has about 10,000 troops - from Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti - in the Somali capital Mogadishu to protect the fragile Western-backed Somali government.


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