The Washington Post

Al-Shabaab bans Red Cross in Somalia

Somali militant group Al-Shabaab says it has banned the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) from operating in the areas of the southern Somalia it controls. The ICRC is believed to be the last major international agency operating in those areas.

A woman holds a malnourished baby in a hospital in Mogadishu in July. (Feisal Omar/Reuters)

The group “has decided to terminate the contract of ICRC permanently,” Al-Shabaab’s spokesman wrote, alleging that 70 percent of the food ICRC delivered was “unfit for human consumption.”

Jean-Yves Clemenzo, a spokesman for the ICRC, told The Post that the Red Cross was “analyzing the situation” and “working to figure out a solution.” Clemenzo said the ICRC was notified of the ban through Twitter and a press release.

Earlier this month, the Red Cross said it was forced to suspend aid for up to 1.1 million people in parts of Somalia because local authorities were hindering the group’s work.

In November, Al-Shabaab stormed the offices of several other U.N. and international aid agencies and said the agencies were banned from bringing in food aid.

Al-Shabaab’s efforts mean at least 250,000 people are still facing starvation in Somalia, which is facing the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, according to the United Nations. Tens of thousands of people have died from famine since April.

Al-Shabaab has also been responsible for kidnapping Kenyan officials, stoning and raping teenage girls and blowing up soccer fans.

The militant group continued tweeting about the ICRC Monday, sharing a photo of what it identified as “expired” food and another photo of the food being burned. “ICRC betrayed the trust conferred on it by local population,” Al-Shabaab wrote.

More world news coverage:

Hungarians grow weary of European Union

Clinton to attend U.N. meeting on Syria

Violence plagues infant nation of South Sudan

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