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Restrictions Hampering Somalia Famine Aid

WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 (UPI) — U.S. anti-terrorism restrictions are preventing the delivery of urgently needed food aid to famine-stricken parts of Somalia, a humanitarian aid official said.

Shannon Scribner of the international relief agency Oxfam said the drought in East Africa should prompt an end to all restrictions, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

“What needs to happen is all actors on the ground — insurgents, the U.S. government and donors — need to lift any restrictions on providing aid,” Scribner said.

Under current restrictions, U.S.-funded groups could face prosecution if they pay “taxes” or tolls demanded for food shipments by the militant Islamic group al-Shabab which has links to al-Qaida.

Officials have told the Post the Obama administration is moving towards easing such restrictions.

They said it is taking time to hammer out the details of providing expanded licenses to aid groups working in areas controlled by al-Shabab.

“The fear on the part of the Obama administration is of being put in a position, by opponents, of channeling food aid to terrorists,” said Ken Menkhaus, a Somalia expert at Davidson College in North Carolina.

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