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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

AL Shabaab feeling The Pain of Refusing Aid Groups Access

As Somalia continues to suffer through the worst drought in decades, Arab nations have clearly failed to act quickly to assist drought-displaced people in the country, a high ranking Al Shabaab official charged Friday.

In a fleeting visit to internal refugee camps in Mogadishu, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys accused Arab states of neglecting and abandoning their Somali brothers and sisters as a severe drought claims many Somalis and their domestic animals.

Aweys, the former leader of the dismantled Hizbul Islam organization, made the comments as thousands of drought-displaced Somalis flood into the capital, Mogadishu, seeking food and water.

He said that Arab nations stopped sending humanitarian aid to Somalia after having a serious misunderstanding with the extremist group, although he didn’t provide any details about the nature of the misunderstanding.

“Everyone who intends to deliver humanitarian assistance is very welcome in the areas we control,” the official said to emphasize the group’s previous statement lifting the ban of aid agencies.

On Tuesday, Sheikh Ali Mohamoud Rage, the spokesman of the militant group, said anyone "whether Muslim or non-Muslim" can provide urgent assistance in the areas they control as long as they have “no hidden plan.”

The United Nations welcomed the move by Al Shabaab, but said it would need security guarantees for its staff.

"I welcome all efforts to ensure the people of Somalia can access the assistance which they have a right to," the UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden, told the BBC.

Nonetheless, Aweys reiterated his call for Arab nations to extend charitable and humanitarian aid.

On Jan. 12, Aweys called for Somalia’s poor and needy not to seek assistance from humanitarian aid agencies.

The United States has accused Aweys of having links to al Qaeda. In April, the U.S. froze the assets of Aweys and others accused of being terrorists.

The Rest @ AllNesHeadlines

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