UN to push ahead with aid effort in Somalia

22nd July 2011, Comments 0 comments

The UN on Friday shrugged off a claim by Qaeda-inspired insurgents that a ban on foreign aid groups remained in force in famine-stricken Somalia, saying it would "work where it's feasible."

"Al Shebab is not a monolithic organisation. Those in control of various parts of the south are not one controlling command," said Emilia Casella, spokeswoman for the World Food Programme. "It's important to note that we're working where we can. We're making plans to work where it's feasible."

The Shebab said earlier Friday that a ban on foreign aid groups remained in force, raising fears that plans by aid groups to deliver emergency supplies to the rebel-held regions would be scuttled.

In a broadcast on the Islamist Al Furqaan radio, Shebab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage also said that "there is drought in Somalia but not famine -- what is declared by the UN is 100 percent false."

Just weeks earlier, the insurgents had said they had lifted the ban on aid groups.

But despite the Shebab U-turn on Friday, UN refugee agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said: "We have no evidence that this work will be hampered further by this statement."

Her agency was working in Somalia through local NGOs, she added.

© 2011 AFP

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