Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 May 2016, 12:25 GMT

Somalia's al-Shabaab Explains Its Ban On Foreign Aid Organizations

Publisher Jamestown Foundation
Publication Date 9 December 2011
Citation / Document Symbol Terrorism Monitor Volume: 9 Issue: 45
Cite as Jamestown Foundation, Somalia's al-Shabaab Explains Its Ban On Foreign Aid Organizations, 9 December 2011, Terrorism Monitor Volume: 9 Issue: 45, available at: [accessed 31 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Somalia's al-Shabaab militants have provided a detailed justification of their recent and controversial decision to halt the work of 16 foreign aid organizations in areas under al-Shabaab control in drought and famine-stricken southern Somalia. The statement, prepared by al-Shabaab's Office for Supervising the Affairs of Foreign Agencies (OSAFA), was released to various jihadi websites (, November 28). The statement allegedly comes as the result of a year-long investigation into what al-Shabaab refers to as "the illicit activities and misconduct" of the foreign aid agencies.

The 16 banned aid organizations include the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO) and a number of Scandinavian, German and French relief organizations.

The al-Shabaab statement charged the international aid organizations of the following:

  •  The collection of data on Shabaab-held territories "under the guise of demographic surveys, vaccinations reports, demining surveys, nutrition analyses and population censuses."
  •  Conveying information about the activities of the Mujahideen.
  • Inciting the local population against "the full establishment of the Islamic Shari'a system," in part by financing and aiding "subversive groups seeking to destroy the basic tents of the Islamic penal system."
  • Working in league with unnamed organizations to "exploit the country of its natural resources."
  • Undermining the "cultural values" of Somali Muslims by using corruption and bribery as methods of operation.
  •   "Failing to implement durable solutions" to relieve the suffering of internally displaced peoples.

Some organizations were accused of promoting "secularism, immorality and the degrading values of democracy," while others were accused of working with "ecumenical [evangelist?] churches" to proselytize Muslim children." In light of these findings, al-Shabaab announced that a committee would perform a yearly review of all aid organizations working in their territory, warning: Any organization found to be supporting or actively engaged in activities deemed detrimental to the attainment of an Islamic State or performing duties other than that which it formally proclaims will be banned immediately without prior warning."

Copyright notice: © 2010 The Jamestown Foundation

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