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

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video Empire State Building Highlights Cecil the Lion

People gathered in streets and rooftops in Manhattan to see the image highlights that covered 33 floors of the building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system 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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs