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UN chief "condemns in strongest possible terms" seizure of NGO property by Somali Islamist radicals

(Xinhua)

13:34, November 29, 2011

UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Monday "condemns in the strongest possible terms" the seizure of property and equipment from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) by Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia.

"The secretary-general condemns, in the strongest possible terms, Al-Shabaab's seizure of property and equipment belonging to several non-governmental organizations and United Nations agencies earlier today," said a statement released here by Ban's spokesperson.

Calling it a "brazen act," the secretary-general said it prevents these organizations from providing life-saving assistance.

"The secretary-general demands that Al-Shabaab vacate the premises and return seized property to the affected agencies and NGOs," said the statement. "He calls for the ban imposed today by Al-Shabaab against these humanitarian organizations to be lifted immediately."

Meanwhile, Ban further called on all parties in Somalia to respect international humanitarian law.

In a related development, Al-Shabaab on Monday said they were banning 16 humanitarian agencies operating in the famine-hit horn of Africa nation, accusing them of involvement in "illicit activities."

The agencies that were banned include Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).

This is the second time the militants group issued such bans but the announcement to disallow the agencies is wider in scope and including most of humanitarian agencies that banned in past edicts by the group.

Somalia is recovering from a severe drought and famine described as the worst in more than half a century which forced hundreds of thousands out of their villages into neighboring Kenyan and Ethiopia. Some have fled to the government controlled Somali capital Mogadishu.

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