Tuesday, January 31, 2012

As Pirate Attacks Reduce The Logistics of Humanitarian Aid Gets Ever More Difficult

Somali Islamic Fundamentalists Ban and Burn Red Cross Deliveries
Shipping News Feature

SOMALIA – Who’d be a truck driver in Somalia? Regular readers will know that we try to print only articles which have relevance in the world of freight and logistics movements but the latest happenings in South and Central Somalia give an indication of the difficulties facing the region and provide an insight into a country where piracy, kidnap and extortion are the only growth industries. The further sophistication of methods to deter and eliminate pirates which we have detailed previously, plus several fatally flawed attacks, has made that particular field ever more hazardous for those who pursue the trade.

For years now the main import for the country has been the food donated by other nations, much of which comes by sea under the protection of the European Union’s Navfor programme which escorts the vessels carrying supplies for the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) which is currently trying to feed around one and a half million people in drought stricken regions.

Now, in a seemingly cynical move, the Islamist group Al-Shabab has announced the banning of food supplies in the areas of the country it controls by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) saying that the Red Cross had ‘repeatedly betrayed the trust conferred on it by the local population and, in recent weeks, falsely accused the Mujahideen of hindering food distribution prompting OSAFA to terminate its contract permanently.’ The statement, issued by the ‘Office for Supervising the Affairs of Foreign Agencies’ which appears on headed paper praising Allah whilst using a symbol consisting of a pair of crossed automatic weapons, further refers to the destruction by incineration of around 2,000 tonnes of food supplies claiming it has passed its sell by date.

A later statement to local press embellished the original statement claiming that 70% of the food stored for distribution by the ICRC was ‘deemed unfit for human consumption, posing a considerable health hazard and exposing the vulnerable recipients to acute illnesses.’ The ICRC has previously had to suspend deliveries of food to over a million vulnerable people due to the threat of violence and a month ago two aid workers assisting the WFP were murdered in the country.

So it seems as the attacks on container ships and bulk freight vessels alike reduce the pressures mount inside the stricken country as gangsters and religious fanatics battle it out whilst the people starve.

Photo :- Somali refugee camps like this house tens of thousands of people.