MOGADISHU, Somalia, Aug. 22 (UPI) — The aid group Oxfam said its assistance to Somalia was saving lives, though concerns remain from looting by militant group al-Shabaab.
Famine is gripping much of Somalia in part because of a drought plaguing much of the Horn of Africa. The United Nations has expressed concern about the effects of famine in Somalia, which hasn’t had a functioning central government since the 1990s.
Oxfam said it sent the first of three aid flights to Mogadishu during the weekend as the country wrestles with an emerging cholera outbreak.
“Clean water and soap are vital to help prevent a public health crisis, as people weakened by hunger are particularly at risk of disease,” said Adan Kabelo, associate country director for Oxfam in Somalia, in a statement. “With the recent cholera outbreak in the Mogadishu, this assistance will save lives.”
Al-Shabaab, the al-Qaida affiliated terrorist group in control of much of the country, reportedly withdrew from Mogadishu in recent weeks.
Al-Shabaab claimed last week, however, that it was able to intercept aid deliveries. Gen. Dagho Badan, a top commander on the Somali military, told an embedded France 24 correspondent that the terrorist threat remains.
“The enemy wouldn’t be able to stop us if we decided to move on them,” he was quoted as saying. “But I have ordered the men to stay here because there is still an enemy presence behind us that needs to be cleaned up before we can attack.”