US Ships Arms, Blocks Humanitarian Aid to Somalia

Claims Food Aid Might Help Insurgents

by Jason Ditz, February 17, 2010

UN officials today issued their most public condemnation yet of US policy on Somalia, noting that the US government is preventing millions of dollars worth of humanitarian aid, including food aid, from reaching the Somali people.

The US defended the policy, saying that they had “evidence” that some of the contractors shipping the aid in were forced to pay protection tolls to militant groups. They have demanded the UN enact policies that officials say will restrict aid delivery even further in the nation, where the US-backed government controls only a few city blocks around the presidential palace.

The White House added that it wasn’t technically their fault that they were preventing humanitarian aid from reaching Somalis, and that it was actually the existence of the militant groups that led to the US policy, so they were really to blame.

Yet while the Obama Administration hems and haws about allowing food into Somalia, they had no qualms about sending 40 tons of assorted arms to the Somali government last year, and pledging to double that amount this year. Many of those arms have been found by locals to be for sale at the arms bazaars in the capital city. Apparently watching as weapons find their way into the black market and the insurgency is less objectionable than the possibility that some of the food aid might wind up in insurgent hands.

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