Aid for Somalia complicated, blocked by al-Shabaab
A file photo of al-Shabaab militants. (AFP/File)
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Even as crises elsewhere get the lion’s share of international attention, Somalia’s need for humanitarian action remains critical, according to Jordi Raich, head of the local International Red Cross’ Somalia delegation.
The Syrian crisis has seen most humanitarian organizations focus on the Middle East, leaving Somalia neglected while drastic climate conditions caused by El Nino and the Al-Shabaab terrorist group still devastate the region.
“Almost all the humanitarian organizations have pulled out,” he told Anadolu Agency. “This further restricts our resources in providing aid. Countries are also pulling funding from Somalia to address other prioritized crises.”
Even though Somalia is set to have elections this year, the destruction from the ongoing 25 years of unrest has left inadequate infrastructure for the federal system to build upon. The World Bank at various junctures has declared Somalia’s economy more dependent on remittances, or money sent from abroad, than any other country in the world.
According to a 2015 report by African charity Adeso, over 40 percent of Somalis still depend on money sent from friends and family abroad for basic needs, which amounts up to 45 percent of the country’s economy.
Raich said, “The general sentiment from the president to the people on the street is that Somalia is on the right path, but the path is still under construction.”
He added, “Somalia is a context that constantly evolves, and we have to keep monitoring on the ground in order to adapt our security operations.”
Relief in Al-Shabaab-influenced areas is a constant negotiation for the Red Cross. Having only just received permission from the terrorist group to provide relief within the areas, they have not yet been granted access to provide relief to captives of Al-Shabaab.
“It is always a situation of extreme caution. We do not use any proxies to gain access to their regions, which increases the risk but also ensures that relief gets given to those needing it,” said Raich.
Currently the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) two-day summit held in Turkey is addressing the situation in Somalia as well as in Syria, Mali, Libya, Yemen, and Afghanistan.
By Shu'eib Hassen