Somalia: ERC Valerie Amos calls on Al-Shabaab to withdraw from seized humanitarian compounds

28 Nov 2011

Women and children wait for humanitarian assistance in Dolo, southern Somalia. Credit: WFP/David Orr
Disrupting humanitarian operations could undermine fragile progress to end hunger, and bring back famine conditions in some areas.

Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said today she was “extremely concerned” by Al-Shabaab’s seizure of property and equipment belonging to several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UN agencies working to alleviate suffering in southern Somalia.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the seizure a “brazen act” and demanded that Al-Shabaab vacate the premises, and return the property.

The seized compounds are located in the regions of Bakool, Bay, Lower Shabelle and Hiraan, which are suffering from the world’s most serious humanitarian crisis.

Ms. Amos also called on Al-Shabaab to reverse its announcement that certain UN agencies and international NGOs, working in areas under its control, should cease their operations.

“Any disruption to ongoing humanitarian efforts threatens to undermine the fragile progress made this year, and could bring back famine conditions in several areas,” warned Ms. Amos.

Despite a recent decrease in the number of famine-affected areas in the country, the situation in central and southern Somalia remains critical. Four million people are still in crisis, and 250,000 face famine, reported OCHA.

Ms. Amos reiterated that humanitarian organizations working in Somalia “remain strictly neutral and their only tasks is to save lives.”

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