News / Africa

    UN Condemns al-Shabab Raids and Humanitarian Aid Ban

    Al-Shabab fighters display weapons as they conduct military exercises in northern Mogadishu, Somalia. (File Photo)
    Al-Shabab fighters display weapons as they conduct military exercises in northern Mogadishu, Somalia. (File Photo)
    Nico Colombant

    United Nations officials have condemned Somalia's al-Shabab insurgents for raiding the offices of several humanitarian agencies on Monday and banning their activities. The developments come as the Islamic rebels face mounting military opposition.

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned al-Shabab's seizure of property and equipment belonging to aid groups and U.N. agencies in central and southern Somalia, calling the attacks "brazen."

    U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos warned that famine could return to some drought affected areas, if relief work is interrupted.

    Both officials also condemned an order by al-Shabab insurgents to ban 16 international aid agencies from operating in areas under their control.

    Spokesmen for al-Shabab accuse the aid agencies of political bias, misconduct and illicit activities.  They also say the agencies had not been doing useful work, but that other groups, including the International Committee of the Red Cross and the medical aid group Doctors Without Borders, would still be allowed to operate.

    Earlier this month, U.N. officials said famine conditions no longer exist in three of the areas that were worst affected, all of them under al-Shabab control, as the Horn of Africa faces its worst drought in 60 years.

    J. Peter Pham, Africa director for the Atlantic Council research center here in Washington, says the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab is facing increasing military pressure -- from African peacekeepers, known as AMISOM, to reported U.S. drone strikes and attacks from the armies of neighboring countries.

    "The famine and [al-]Shabab's contributions to its exacerbation really cost [al-]Shabab a great deal of popular legitimacy.  The AMISOM forces in Mogadishu in the last year have been really enhanced in their capabilities and have certainly been successful in pushing [al-]Shabab out of the capital militarily.  And [al-]Shabab is under pressure from the Kenyan incursion, even if the Kenyans are apparently bogged down," he said.

    Ethiopian troops are pushing ahead with a western front against al-Shabab fighters as well.  

    Pham cautions that even if al-Shabab fighters are further weakened, their core elements might move away from controlling territory to planning more terrorist attacks.  He warns that a multitude of competing militia and clan-based warlords might reemerge. "I think there is an opportunity to militarily degrade [al-]Shabab, but I worry about whether the subsequent follow up is going to be there," he said.

    In their statements, U.N. officials placed hopes on civil society meetings taking place in the Somali capital Mogadishu to establish a framework to replace the country's Transitional Federal Government and usher in stability and effective governance.  In other parts of Mogadishu, witnesses say several explosions on Sunday and Monday killed at least six people.  Al-Shabab fighters left most of their fixed positions in the capital in August, but have continued suicide bombings and guerrilla attacks.

    Somalia has not had an effective central government for more than 20 years.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora