Aid workers have been barred from operating in Somalia by the al-Shabaab Islamic militant group. Aid organisations’ offices have been raided by the militants, with the likes of the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and the Norwegian and Danish refugee councils reportedly targeted so far.
The al-Shabaab militants control much of southern and central Somalia, and their aim is to establish complete Shariah rule across the country. The militants claim that many of the aid organisations are preventing this from happening. The al-Shabaab group was formed from the remants of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which ruled Somalia until a few years ago.
Kenyan, Somali and Ethiopian government troops are currently engaged in operations to defeat al-Shabaab, with the group being blamed not only for harbouring al-Qaida operatives but also for a series of raids into Kenya in which western tourists have been killed and kidnapped. Although al-Shabaab temporarily allowed western aid into their areas earlier this year, they now seem to have changed their minds.