UN refugee agency concerned over aid group's expulsion in Somalia
Publisher: Xinhua News Agency
Story date: 29/11/2011
Language: English

GENEVA, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) – The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Tuesday expressed concern over a ban imposed by Somali rebel militant group Al Shabaab on 16 international humanitarian agencies.

"We are concerned about Al Shabaab's announcement yesterday, permanently revoking work permissions to a number of UN organizations including UNHCR in parts of Somalia under their control," UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic said at a press conference.

The ban came at a critical time for humanitarian actions in Somalia, as the drought, famine and continued fighting have forced 1.46 million people to be internally displaced, of which over two thirds live in southern and central parts of the country largely in hands of the rebels.

The 16 aid groups included agencies like UNHCR, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the Norwegian and Danish Refugee Councils.

WHO offices in Baidoa and Wajid were raided on Monday, with all medical supplies taken away, a WHO spokesperson said.

There could be a shortage of medical supplies if access is not re-established soon, the organization said.

Public health condition has been deteriorating in Somalia. Barely a month ago, the WHO issued a warning of a possible major outbreak of cholera in the country's capital Mogadishu.
 

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