Militants Stop Aid from Reaching Dying Somali Citizens


The United Nations has been calling for increased aid contributions to Somalia since the beginning of the summer, when the worst drought in 60 years began to signal an impending humanitarian crisis.  But that aid may not be reaching thousands who are dying within Somalia, because of the actions of al-Shabaab, an Islamist militant group which controls large segments of the country.  In 2009, al-Shabaab banned all foreign aid organizations from Somalia, saying that they did not want outside interference.  But as conditions worsened, they seemed to soften, allowing organizations with no “political motivation” to enter the country.

Now, however, al-Shabaab is denying that they ever permitted foreign organizations back into the country.  And to make matters worse, they are targeting the few places in Somalia where citizens can go to receive foreign aid.  The capital, Mogadishu, is partially controlled by a weak African Union-backed government, which is working with the UN to get aid into the country.  Famine conditions, however, are primarily concentrated in the south, which is controlled by al-Shabaab.  Desperate Somalis have begun defying al-Shabaab and fleeing to the parts of Mogadishu where aid is available.  But violence in the capital is getting in their way.  Aid workers estimate that there are 2 million Somalis who are simply out of reach because of al-Shabaab’s presence in the south.

According to the New York Times, tens of thousands of Somalis have already died, and half a million children are on the edge of starvation.  Refugees are fleeing to camps in neighboring Ethiopia and Kenya, but the camps are overcrowded and do not have sufficient supplies for the vast influx of people.  Al-Shabaab is now being blamed for actively obstructing aid to thousands of dying people.  In a bizarre and capricious move, the militants recently banned samosas, a common Somali snack, from being baked or consumed, because they are a “Christian symbol.”

“It is safe to say that many people are going to die as a result of little or no access,” said Eric James, an official with the American Refugee Committee.

Women are being raped and robbed as they flee to Somalia’s capital or its borders, and families are leaving malnourished children to die in the wilderness.  It may be a matter of time before al-Shabaab itself is affected by the famine, but it’s unclear whether experiencing these terrible conditions will make them halt their offensive against civilians and aid workers.

According to CNN reporters, Somali citizens are clear on who’s at fault.  ”Nature is always cruel but Al-Shabaab are the real killers,” said a man in a refugee camp.

In the meantime, it’s crucial to continue to support aid organizations as they attempt to bring assistance to Somalia and the refugee camps on its borders. Go to the UNHCR’s website to learn more about what you can do to help save more people from starvation.

Related Stories:

Women Raped as the Food Crisis Expands in East Africa

Somalia is Dying. Why Don’t We Care?

UN Declares Famine in Somalia: Why Isn’t the US Helping?

Photo from Oxfam East Africa via flickr.

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bob m.
bob m.4 years ago

I have no doubt whatsoever about islams roots;....but as usual.............they are conspicuos
in their care-less-ness.

Yvette S.
Past Member 4 years ago

We, in our compassion, would like to send in the military to off these pigs who are starving families, raping women and causing the complete destruction to the societal structure of these people to people to turn into dust. Lest we forget these are the very thoughts we had about many of the countries we later accused Obama of invading/'wasting money on'.

So we remember this is how it starts, and what a complex choice it is to intervene on behalf of justice when people are being so clearly devastated. Where do we begin, when does it then end for us as an involved party?

This just for a thought, personally I would like to see these monsters captured, tried, found guilty and left to starve.

Where is the UN this time?

colleen p.
colleen p.4 years ago

just conquer Somalia. problem solved. split it up with a few other nations.

if animal rights people can say "let's hunt humans, let people suffer from horrible illnesses because biology is not the same for a cat to a human to a rabbit, even down to muscle growth"

then I can joke about this.

Lynne B.
Lynne Buckley4 years ago

Man's inhumanity to man is unbelievable at time. No one should be able to hide behind a religion when you treat innocent people like this. Militants like these have nothing to do with Islam or any religion. They're inhuman cowards who are soulless.

Sue Horwood
Sue H.4 years ago

I wonder just who is funding these murderous morons. The UN should vote to send in an international force to wipe them from the face of the earth so that the starving can get the assistance they need.

Jayne Braby Bethard

That's all the world needs...members of their own country's citizenship arming themselves to prevent aid reaching those in need! I'm going to keep them all in my prayers...

Debbie Wasko
Past Member 4 years ago

If nothing gets through, where is it going? People will eventually stop trying to help an impossible situation.

We have been known for covert action in the face of crisis ... and this is surely one. With our push-button wars, focus on the area of the offenders before they are forced to mix in due to their own lack of supplies. Possibile?

Lauren Savard
Lauren Savard4 years ago

As if the situation there isn't dire enough... may each and every one of those affected be blessed... and may we do whatever we can to help. Praying!!

Vallerie Sall
Vallerie Hurl4 years ago

I agee with you all. We want to help the people and to have these militants move in to ban it is sooooo cruel. I couldn't watch someone go without food or water, I would have to share and to help wherever I can. God has the last word, one way or the other the militants will get their day. It's absolutely heart breaking for other human beings to just let others starve.

Christine S.

I wish we could declare war on these callous militants so that we could send armed forces to allow aid to reach the starving people.