- (Reuters/Feisal Omar)
Humanitarian efforts in Somalia have ceased, as al-Shabaab rebels have announced a ban on International Red Cross (ICRC) workers from providing aid.
The drought that has taken over Somalia is quickly getting worse, and the ICRC ban will deeply concern aid workers and organizations in the region. Al-Shabaab claims that the ICRC has "repeatedly betrayed the trust conferred on it by the local population and, in recent weeks, falsely accused the Mujahideen [al-Shabaab fighters] of hindering food distribution."
A statement from al-Shabaab said, "A thorough inspection of ICRC warehouses and food depots throughout the Islamic Administrations governed by the Mujahideen has revealed that up to 70 percent of the food stored for distribution by the organization was deemed unfit for human consumption."
The group responded by setting fire to "nearly 2,000 metric tons of expired ICRC rations intended for distribution."
Reports show the desperation of Somalis, as the worst drought in 60 years ravages the nation. Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, stated in July, "The reason the aid has not gone in sufficient quantities into south and central Somalia is because al-Shabaab has prevented those capable of delivering large quantities of aid from having access, and when they have had access, they've taxed them, harassed them, killed them, and kidnapped them."
The U.N. predicted as many as 750,000 deaths as a result of the drought. Al-Shabaab has taken advantage of the situation to exert even more force and violence against Somalis who disagree with its radical Islamic ideology. Al-Shabaab recently arrested a Muslim father for allowing his children to convert to Christianity. The sons fled Somalia after their conversion.
Reports state that members of al-Shabaab "accused Aw-Omar (father) of failing to raise his sons as good Muslims because good Muslims cannot convert to Christianity."
The father will reportedly be detained until the boys return, which is unlikely since the boys may be killed upon their return.
There has been no response by the ICRC with regards to the ban.