An official of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government says the administration categorically condemns al-Shabab’s threats after the hard-line Islamist group ordered the World Food Program (WFP) to halt its operations and leave the country.
Abdi Kadir Walaayo said the government is looking at decisive ways to deal militarily with the insurgent group. “The government condemns this act and describes it as inhumane because it’s really something inconceivable if someone is stopped from delivering humanitarian assistance to the needy people,” he said.
In a statement released Sunday, the insurgent group ordered the WFP to stop all of its operations and leave the country. "Effective as of today, all of WFP's operations inside Somalia are terminated, and the organization has been completely banned," read the statement from the insurgent group.
Al-Shabab has often accused WFP of distributing expired food, which the group claims negatively impacts local farmers - - a charge WFP denies.
But government spokesman Walaayo is urging the WFP to continue its humanitarian assistance.
“The government is looking for ways and means to resume the food assistance provided by the WFP… and as you know, the WFP in conjunction with the government have used other ports in northern parts of Somalia, and the relief operations has started in central Somalia…and the government is looking at ways of resolving this problem,” Walaayo said.
According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), nearly half of Somalia’s population needs aid.
WFP spokesman, Peter Smerdon says the WFP will continue with its humanitarian assistance despite al-Shabab’s latest threat.
“The United Nations World Food Program is determined to help the people of Somalia in need of assistance, regardless of who controls the areas in which they live, as long as it is safe for our staff to do so,” Smerdon said.
The Somali government is battling almost daily with various hard-line Islamist insurgent groups, including al-Shabab, who have vowed to overthrow the administration.
Smerdon says WFP has been providing assistance to Somalis since the overthrow of former President Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991.
“We’ve been in Somalia since before the start of the civil war in 1991 and we remain in Somalia...We are still very operational in Mogadishu, in central Somalia and in northern Somalia. So those operations continue, regardless of any statement by any armed group,” Smerdon said.