The UN’s World Food Programme has halted operations in much of southern Somalia because of what it says are unacceptable demands by Islamist rebels and threats to its staff.
Seen as central to international efforts to address a humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa nation, the WFP says half the population is reliant on aid, but al Shabaab extremists have made their work impossible.
WFP spokesman Peter Smerdon said: ‘‘Al Shabaab in November issued 11 conditions for aid agencies to operate in southern Somalia. These included conditions such as women being removed from their jobs unless they worked just in hospitals or health centres, and payment of 20,000 dollars every six months for security.’‘
Somalia is seen as a safe haven for Islamist rebels.
Al Shabaab in particular is regarded by the West as an ally of al-Qaeda and last week a senior member of the group said they were ready to send fighters to neighbouring Yemen to help overthrow the government there.