US Condemns Somali Militant Ban of Aid Agencies

Posted November 30th, 2011 at 2:30 am (UTC-5)
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The United States says it is “extremely concerned” about the Somali militant group al-Shabab's announcement to ban 16 international aid organizations.

In a statement Tuesday, the State Department joined U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in condemning the al-Qaida-linked group, saying al-Shabab is putting millions in need of emergency assistance in Somalia at even greater risk.

Al-Shabab has accused the aid agencies of promoting secularism, immorality and what it described as “the degrading values of democracy in an Islamic country.”

Among the forbidden agencies are six U.N. organizations, including the World Health Organization, the U.N. Children's Fund and the U.N. refugee agency.

The State Department said the aid groups are only working to save lives in Somalia, and called on all parties to immediately allow access to those who need emergency assistance.

The United Nations says famine still persists in three regions of Somalia with nearly 250,000 people at risk of starvation.

Troops from Kenya, the African Union and Somalia's transitional government are all battling al-Shabab. The militant group withdrew its fighters from the capital, Mogadishu, in August but has vowed to return.