Somalia: Al-Shabab forces World Food Program out

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An estimated one million Somalis may go without food because Islamic millitant group, al-Shabab, has forced out the World Food Program (WFP) from large areas of Somalia. The WFP has warned that without help, Somali farmers cannot supply enough food.

“WFP’s humanitarian operations in southern Somalia have been under escalating attacks from armed groups, leading to this partial suspension of humanitarian food distributions in much of southern Somalia,” WFP Peter Smerdon said in a statement.

Al-Shabab accuses the WFP of destroying the incentive for local farming by encouraging Somalis to rely on imports and food supply. To this regard, the militant group gave the WFP a deadline of 1 January to halt all of its operations in the area. The WFP has thus been threatened and forced out of deprived communities.

Incessant conflict, droughts and economic instability has left more than 109,000 young children and many more adults dependent on the feeding centers run by the WFP, but these vulnerable populations will now have to survive at the mercy of al-Shabab.

Al-Shabab which controls large parts of Southern Somalia, has also demanded that if the WFP must stay, they must remove women from their jobs and pay $20,000 every six months for security, reports claim.

Groups such as al-Shabab want to impose a hard-line interpretation of Islamic law on the country.

According to reports, six of WFP offices have been shut temporarily in al-Shabab controlled towns. The humanitarian agency will thus continue its food distribution in government controlled cities like the capital city of Mogadishu.

Observers have said hundreds of thousands of despondent women and children who have fled from areas where WFP has been expelled are expected to flux government controlled towns.

WFP staffs have been redeployed in government-controlled parts to help people.

Somalia has been in disarray since 1991 when its central government collapsed. Today, its UN-and AU-backed transitional government controls only parts of the capital, Mogadishu.

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