, NAIROBI, Jan 5 – Attacks by Al Qaeda-linked rebels have led to the suspension of food distributions in large swathes of Somalia, leaving one million people outside the relief net, the UN food agency said Tuesday.
"Rising threats and attacks on humanitarian operations, as well as the imposition of a string of unacceptable demands from armed groups, have made it virtually impossible for the World Food Programme (WFP) to continue reaching up to one million people in need in southern Somalia," it said in a statement.
Somalia has been plagued by almost uninterrupted civil conflict since the 1991 ouster of president Mohamed Siad Barre and is often described as one of the world\’s worst humanitarian crises.
The radical Islamist insurgent group Shebab, whose leader last year proclaimed allegiance to Al Qaeda supremo Osama bin Laden, has overrun and looted several key UN compounds in southern Somalia in recent weeks.
In the areas they control, the Shebab have also imposed strict conditions on foreign humanitarian organisations, effectively prohibiting their operations.
"WFP is deeply concerned about rising hunger and suffering among the most vulnerable due to these unprecedented and inhumane attacks on purely humanitarian operations," the statement said.