Somali militants hinder humanitarian aid
Islamist forces in Somalia have launched fresh attacks, worrying international aid groups.
Fresh fighting between Islamist militants and government troops in Somalia could trigger a new phase of humanitarian crisis in war-torn Somalia and prompt the UN Security Council to consider peacekeeping operations.Skip to next paragraph
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International aid agencies warned on Wednesday that Somalia had become too dangerous for its workers to help more than a million civilians living in difficult conditions. Fresh fighting erupted near the capital of Mogadishu in clashes between Islamist fighters and Somali troops, Agence France-Presse reports.
Thirty-nine aid organizations, including Oxfam, World Vision, and Save the Children, warned Wednesday of a possible humanitarian disaster ahead of a UN Security Council debate today on Somalia. The groups issued a similar warning in October 2007. The aid groups released a statement Wednesday, reports humanitarian website Reliefweb:
The aid agencies warned humanitarian relief efforts have been held back by the rising lawlessness and violence.
The US has been engaged in a long, low-profile struggle with Islamist forces in Somalia, reported The Christian Science Monitor. A March 3 missile strike against the southern Somali town of Dobley was aimed at preventing violent Islamist militants from taking root in Somalia and spreading through East Africa. Some observers are concerned such efforts could generate greater anti-US sentiment.
Islamist groups are regrouping in Somalia, some with more formal ties to Al Qaeda than in the past, says one security observer on the Counterterrorism Blog. The most important group, says Douglas Farah, is Al Shabab. Mr. Farah, citing a US State Department statement said:
Somalia has seen intermittent conflict since two separate colonies gained independence from Britain and Italy in 1960, uniting into one country. Historians say tribal and ethnic conflicts fought over access to resources, including water and pastoral country, once fought with bows and spears are now fought with AK-47s.