Al-Shabab Stops Red Cross Work in Somalia

February 2, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Epoch Times Photo
Somali women carry weapons during a demonstration organized by the Islamist Al-Shabaab group in 2010. (Abdurashi Abikar/AFP/Getty Images)

Al-Shabaab militants in southern Somalia said on Thursday that they banned the International Committee of the Red Cross aid work from operating in the portions of the country that they control.

Al-Shabaab said that the aid agency was giving out what the militant group described as food unfit for human consumption, reported the BBC. Al-Shabaab also said the Red Cross accused them of blocking aid.

However, the Red Cross said it would continue to help Somalis in that portion of the country, which over the past year, has been ravaged by drought and famine.

“Under the agreement, we provided more than 1.2 million people living in central and southern Somalia with one-month food rations between June and December 2011,” stated Daniel Duvillard, the head of the Red Cross in East Africa. “The food distributions helped address severe malnutrition among the population.”

The aid group said it had distributed more than 17,000 tons of rice, oil, and beans to people in the country’s south. It said that due to heat or rain, around 6 percent of the food deteriorated.

“Those beans were either withdrawn by the ICRC or destroyed by the Al-Shabaab authorities,” said Duvillard. “No food suspected to be unfit for human consumption was distributed to aid recipients in Somalia.”

The Red Cross is one of the few aid groups working in Somalia, a country that has had no centralized government since the early 1990s.

Al-Shabaab, considered a terrorist group by many Western countries including the U.S., had already halted several aid agencies from working in the country, including several from the United Nations. It said they were exaggerating the country’s troubles for political reasons, and were trying to convert Muslims to Christianity.