Thursday, July 28, 2011

"The headaches of getting aid to famine-stricken Somalia"

I'm quoted in Katie Nguyen and Katy Migiro's Reuters article about Somalia. Here is the quote from the story:
"Many Somalis in southern Somalia will die either under al Shabaab control or escape the region to refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia or even become IDPs (internally displaced) in small areas controlled by ASWJ (Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca, a pro-government group) and the TFG (transitional federal government)," said David Shinn, adjunct professor of international affairs at George Washington University and a former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia.

"Either way, this damages al Shabaab's image and weakens its control."
And here is the full quote I provided:
There are divisions within al-Shabaab but I would not go so far as to suggest the organization is fractured. I believe it is under heavier than normal pressure because it looks bad when you cannot keep people alive in the territory you control. Many Somalis in southern Somalia will either die under al-Shabaab control or escape the region to refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia or even become IDPs in small areas of Somalia controlled by ASWJ and the TFG. Either way, this damages al-Shabaab’s image and weakens its control.

If al-Shabaab is smart, it will swallow its misguided principles and give international aid agencies and non-governmental organizations unrestricted and unconditional access to feed Somalis in territory that al-Shabaab controls. I believe the international community could stem much of the movement of Somalis out of southern Somalia if al-Shabaab were to do this. Security concerns will still be an issue. It is possible that elements of al-Shabaab or independent militias would try to take advantage of the situation and steal food supplies delivered by the international community. Little is known about the current capacity of previous independent militias in southern Somalia. The logistics of operating in this area are also most difficult; the infrastructure is largely destroyed. There may also be landmines in certain areas. This is a huge challenge for the aid agencies.

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