ICRC suspends aid distribution in Somalia

Somalis displaced by famine sit in the back of a truck ready to leave an internally displaced persons camp in Mogadishu Sunday.

Story highlights

  • The aid is intended to help more than 1 million drought victims
  • The ICRC says local authorities block aid distribution in central and southern areas
  • Five international aid workers were killed in attacks in Somalia in December

Distribution of food, seed and medical relief intended for drought victims in Somalia has been suspended, the International Committee of the Red Cross announced Thursday.

The aid intended for up to 1.1 million people has been held up because local authorities blocked distribution of ICRC food and seed relief in the Middle Shabelle and Galgaduud regions in central and southern Somalia, according to a statement by the organization.

"We are actively seeking the cooperation of the local authorities to restore conditions that will allow the resumption of the suspended activities as soon as possible," said Patrick Vial, the head of the ICRC delegation for Somalia.

According to the ICRC statement, the organization has distributed food relief to more than 1 million people and agricultural support to more than 100,000 farmers.

In addition, the ICRC has helped treat more than 170,000 severely malnourished children and made health care more available in remote areas, the statement said.

Last month, two attacks on aid workers in Somalia killed five people -- two from Medecins Sans Frontieres, also known as Doctors Without Borders, and three from the U.N. World Food Programme.

The African Union Mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, is trying to consolidate power for Somalia's weak transitional federal government in Mogadishu, the capital, where Islamic militants had been especially active in their battle against that government.

AMISOM forces reported in late December they had successfully pushed the Al-Shabaab movement out of Mogadishu.

Al-Shabaab is linked to al Qaeda and is considered a terrorist group by the United States.

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