News / Africa

US to Test al-Shabab’s Willingness to Allow Food Aid to Somalia

In this file photo of Thursday June 26, 2009, a Somali child eats as he is waiting to be registered at U.N. registration center in Dagahaley, Northeastern Kenya
In this file photo of Thursday June 26, 2009, a Somali child eats as he is waiting to be registered at U.N. registration center in Dagahaley, Northeastern Kenya

The United States said Wednesday that it is prepared to “test” the willingness of the Somali rebel group al-Shabab to allow Western food aid to reach millions of Somalis threatened by drought.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has ordered a coordinated U.S. response to try to prevent another famine in the Horn of Africa like the one that struck some two decades ago.

Al-Shabab, which controls most of Somalia’s territory and is listed by the United States as a terrorist organization, has until now barred outside humanitarian aid groups from areas it dominates.

But amid a looming hunger crisis, the group says it will welcome all aid agencies, including non-Muslim ones, to assist in drought relief efforts.  And the State Department says the United States intends to test that willingness.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton convened a meeting Wednesday of senior officials of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development on the Horn of Africa drought.  A senior official here said she issued instructions to do whatever is possible to avoid another humanitarian disaster in the region.

Drought conditions in Somalia and parts of Ethiopia and Kenya are being compared to those of the early 1990s when famine claimed more than 300,000 lives.  At the time, large amounts of international aid were commandeered by Somali warlords to help fuel the country’s civil war.  There is concern among Western governments and aid groups that al-Shabab, which is battling Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, might do the same.

But an al-Shabab spokesman in Mogadishu said Tuesday that the group is lifting a ban on access to aid groups and that all agencies whose mission is only humanitarian relief will be allowed in.

A senior State Department official said now that al-Shabab is “making noises about being a cooperative player,” it is incumbent on the United States and other donor countries to test whether the group is ready to let starving people receive humanitarian aid.

State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the drought might have displaced 1.5 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, and that the United States has begun positioning relief supplies to respond to the crisis.

“We have already delivered some 19,000 metric tons of food to the World Food Program, and a lot of that has already been staged in warehouses to insure rapid delivery a to insure rapid delivery into the area.  This morning, Secretary Clinton asked our folks to continue to look at this, and work hard on what we can do together and what we can do with neighboring governments to ensure that we don’t have another massive humanitarian catastrophe," she said.

The U.N.’s World Food Program pulled out of hard-hit northern Somalia last year because of threats and extortion demands by al-Shabab.  But a U.N. spokesman in Nairobi said the organization is prepared to cooperate with anyone who can work to ease the crisis, and save lives.

Two seasons of little rain in the region are threatening an estimated 10 million people.

The British-based relief group Oxfam says at least 500 people have died from drought-related causes since the beginning of the year, but that the toll could soar later this year if the drought persists.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid