Islamists Al Shabaab ban Red Cross in Somalia

January 30, 2012 18:53

MOGADISHU - Al Shabaab Islamist rebels in Somalia have expelled the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) from areas they control in country's south and center, the rebels said on Monday.

ICRC has run programs in the Horn of Africa nation for the last 30 years, mainly providing medical aid

It suspended food distribution to 1.1 million people in central and southern Somalia on Jan.12, saying that militants had blocked deliveries in parts of the famine-hit country.

"The International Committee of the Red Cross has repeatedly betrayed the trust conferred on it by the local population and, in the recent weeks, falsely accused the Mujahideen (Shabaab fighters) of hindering food distribution," al Shabaab said in a statement.

ICRC spokeswoman for Africa, Anna Schaaf, declined to comment.

ICRC's suspension of food distribution prompted a Somali government minister to say the humanitarian crisis could worsen. About 250,000 Somalis already live in famine conditions and a total of four million need aid, the United Nations says.

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