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After two years UN aid delivered to Islamist areas of Somalia

It’s the first time aid has been delivered to some parts of the country in two years

Two-month-old Fulhado Daud Aliyow rests in his mother's hand at a hospital where he is being treated for malnutrition in Dagahaley Camp, outside Dadaab, Kenya on Friday.
Two-month-old Fulhado Daud Aliyow rests in his mother's hand at a hospital where he is being treated for malnutrition in Dagahaley Camp, outside Dadaab, Kenya on Friday.
Image: Rebecca Blackwell/AP/Press Association Images

THE UN HAS delivered aid to drought victims in areas of Somalia controlled by Islamist militants for the first time in two years after an aid ban was lifted ten-days ago.

The Al-Qaeda linked group Al-Shabab has given UN workers unhindered access to victims of the worst drought in six decades in East Africa and a spokesperson for the United Nations Children’ Fund (UNICEF) said she hoped this would encoruage other agenices to deliver aid.

The Horn of Africa has been hit by the worst drought crisis in 60 years which is said to be affecting as many as 12 million people.

According to the UN more than half a million children in Somalia are acutely malnourished with southern Somalia the worst affected with 80 per cent of those malnourished children living there.

Rozanne Chorlton, UNICEF Representative for Somalia, said: “We are ready to work anywhere in Somalia, provided we get unhindered access to reach the most vulnerable children in need.”

BBC News reports that Al-Shabab, which rules over large parts of central and southern Somalia, banned foreign aid agencies accusing them of being anti-Muslim.

This meant that many affected by the drought had been fleeing Al-Shabab controlled areas to head for the country’s capital Mogadishu where the county’s weak central government controls some areas. Others have headed to Ethiopia and Kenya. In Kenya, refugee camps have become overcrowded.

On Friday, the US State Department said that the situation in East Africa is one of the largest humanitarian crises in decades, AP reports. The US pledged “significant” aid despite the debt ceiling impasse being debated in Washington.

Reuben E Brigety, who is responsible for State Department assistance to refugees and conflict victims in Africa, pledged an extra $5 million to help Somali refugees on top of a previously budgeted $63 million.

Levels of malnutrition among refugees arriving at the camps are staggeringly high according to the State Department. The overall mortality rate at the camps in Ethiopia is seven people out of 10,000 per day, when a normal crisis rate is two per day, Brigety said.

Separately the UK pledged £52.25 million in aid to the area but the country’s International Development Secretary said the country would not deal with Al-Shabab on a visit to a camp in Kenya, ITV News  reports.

- additional reporting from AP

Read: “The people here show me the graves of children”: East Africa’s drought crisis >

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Hugh O'Connell

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