Another aid group banned on flimsy pretext. We often say “jihad causes poverty,” but al-Shabaab is taking that idea to a whole new level of literalism. “Somali rebels ban aid group Save the Children,” from Agence France-Presse, March 13:
Somalia’s Shebab rebels Tuesday banned the aid group Save the Children from operating in regions under their control, levelling a string of accusations against the organisation.
The Shebab’s Office for Supervising the Affairs of Foreign Agencies said in a statement that it “revokes the permission of the organisation known as Save the Children to operate in any of the regions under the administration of the mujahideen.”
It accused Save the Children of distributing expired porridge to children, as well as corruption and failing to comply with the rules laid down by the Al Qaeda-linked group.
The Shebab “strives to protect the welfare of the entire Muslim population of Somalia and will implement all necessary safety measures to dissuade competing organisations from degrading their quality of life,” added the statement.
Save the Children projects in Somalia have included running health centres and treating malnourished children, digging wells, providing sanitation and upgrading and equipping schools.
In January, the extremist militia banned the International Committee of the Red Cross and ordered it to close its operations in the Shebab-controlled regions.
Hardline Shebab gunmen control large parts of southern and central Somalia. The war-torn nation was the worst hit in the Horn of Africa by a recent harsh drought that left some 12 million people in dire need of relief aid.
Somalia, ravaged by nearly uninterrupted civil war for the past two decades, is one of the most dangerous places in the world for aid workers and one of the regions that needs them most.
In November, the Shebab also ordered shut 16 UN and other international aid agencies after raiding several of their offices. It has banned organisations it said “engaged in activities deemed detrimental to the attainment of an Islamic state.”
Save the Children’s regional headquarters in Nairobi was not immediately available for comment Tuesday.