29 Nov 2011

Aid agencies banned by rebels in Somalia

1:00 pm on 29 November 2011

Rebels in Somalia have stormed and looted offices of aid organisations and announced a ban on 16 relief agencies in areas they control. It accuses them of political bias.

The United Nations says fighters from Al Shabaab have occupied agency offices in the towns of Baidoa and Beledweyne.

Al Shabaab controls large areas of Somalia. It says it has decided to deny permission to operate inside the country to agencies like UNICEF and the World Health Organisation.

The International Committee for the Red Cross and Medecins Sans Frontieres escaped the ban.

The BBC reports years of conflict mean Somalia is worst hit by the East African drought. The lack of rain is said to be the worst in 60 years.

The UN says a quarter of a million people face imminent starvation there.