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Mogadishu demonstrations against Al-Shabaab over humanitarian aid blockade

By   /  January 22, 2011  /  No Comments

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Mogadishu (Alshahid) – Hundreds of Mogadishu residents came out on the streets to participate in a large demonstration against Al-Shabaab militias for blocking humanitarian organizations to deliver food aid to famine stricken Somalis.

The demonstrators marched down roads in the government-controlled districts of the city, chanting anti Al-Shabaab slogans, carrying placards: “We don’t want the mad and cruel militants” and “Stop harassing, stop intimidating people; open access for needy Somalis to get assistance.”

They were expressing their feelings at the way Al Shabaab, an al-Qaeda sponsored Somalia insurgence has persistently prevented international aid agencies from helping those suffering from the country’s severe drought and needlessly expelled those trying to provide humanitarian assistance to the hundreds of thousands of displaced people, many forced out of their homes by the activities of Al-Shabaab itself.

The demonstrators called on the world to act quickly to help the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) dislodge Al-Shabaab militants and assist those affected by drought.

Warsame Mohammed Jodah, who addressed the demonstrators on behalf of the Benadir Administration, noted that the problems of internally displaced persons had increased dramatically in the last few years and particularly after Al-Shabaab banned more than 20 aid agencies from operating in southern and central Somalia.

This is the second public anti Al-Shabaab demonstration in Somalia in less than 48 hours. On Tuesday, dozens of local residents in the village of El-Arfid in the Shebelle region of southern Somalia demonstrated after fighters loyal to Al-Shabaab burnt several bags of aid-donated maize.

At least 50 local inhabitants were arrested by Al-Shabaab during the protest which went on to declare a curfew in the village. Al-Shabaab is also continuing to have problems over its relations with the former Hizbul Islam. Although Hizbul Islam has disbanded and supposedly joined Al-Shabaab, former Hizbul Islam officials are continuing to be arrested and jailed by Al-Shabaab as are many of Hizbul Islam’s fighters. Most recently the former spokesperson of Hizbul Islam in Mogadishu was arrested for allegedly refusing orders from Al-Shabaab to go to the lower Shebelle region, MoFa adds.

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