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Somali militants raid humanitarian compounds, ban aid agencies:UN

(Xinhua)

13:30, November 29, 2011

UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- Somalia-based terrorist group Al-Shabaab raided several humanitarian compounds and banned UN and international aid agencies in Southern Somalia on Monday, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, Valerie Amos, said in a statement issued here.

"I am extremely concerned by Al-Shabaab's seizure of property and equipment belonging to several non-governmental organizations and UN agencies working to alleviate suffering in southern Somalia, " Amos said.

"I call on groups associated with Al-Shabaab to withdraw immediately from humanitarian compounds seized this morning in the regions of Bakool, Bay, Lower Shabelle and Hiraan, and to desist from any further actions which would threaten humanitarian operations and the safety of humanitarian workers," she said.

The raids come at a critical moment for famine-affected Somalians. Four million people in central and southern Somalia are still "in crisis," and 250,000 more face famine in the near future, Amos said.

"Any disruption to ongoing humanitarian efforts threatens to undermine the fragile progress made this year, and could bring back famine conditions in several areas," she said.

Amos called on Al-Shabaab to withdraw immediately from the raided camps and to reverse the ban on humanitarian aid organizations, which include the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Health Organization( WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).

"Humanitarian organizations working in Somalia remain strictly neutral, and their only task is to save lives. I call on all parties to respect international humanitarian law," Amos said.

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