Militias ban WFP work in Somalia

MOGADISHU - The hardline Islamist Shebab militia says it has "banned" World Food Programme operations in Somalia.

MOGADISHU - The hardline Islamist Shebab militia says it has "banned" World Food Programme operations in Somalia.

The Shebab movement, which controls most of central and southern Somalia, yesterday charged that aid distributed by the UN agency had disadvantaged local farmers and accused it of political motivation.

"Given the problems caused by the food WFP distributed, the movement of Shebab al-Mujahideen banned the operations of the agency in Somalia generally starting from today," the al-Qaeda-linked group said in a statement.

A senior member of the rebel outfit confirmed the ban to AFP.

"We have already given WFP chances to operate in Somalia but after failing to comply with the conditions we put forward, we totally banned WFP operations in Somalia," he said on condition of anonymity.

The WFP stopped working in southern Somalia in January, announcing it had suspended distribution of food aid after months of attacks and extortion by the al-Qaeda-linked rebels.

"Rising threats and attacks on humanitarian operations, as well as the imposition of a string of unacceptable demands from armed groups, have made it virtually impossible for the WFP to continue reaching up to one million people in need in southern Somalia," it said at the time.

The UN said the agency hoped to restart work in the area in March or April, adding the suspension was over the post-harvest period when enough food was available.

The WFP also said it would continue to send food aid to 1,8 million Somalians in other parts of the country. - Sapa-AFP

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