23 Jul 2011

al-Shabaab disputes UN reports of famine

6:45 am on 23 July 2011

The al-Shabaab group in Somalia says it has not lifted a ban on foreign aid agencies in areas it controls.

The group says the United Nations is exaggerating the severity of the drought in southern Somalia and UN reports of famine are ''sheer propaganda''.

However, the World Food Programme says there is overwhelming evidence of a famine.

The two districts where a famine has been declared - Bakool and Lower Shabelle - are under the control of al-Shabab.

The UN on Wednesday said that parts of Somalia were suffering a famine after the worst drought in 60 years.

The BBC reports some 10 million people are said to need food aid across East Africa.