Many aid organizations pulled out of Somalia after Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabab took over much of the country, partly due to concerns that US officials would prosecute them for aiding the enemy.
Farah Abdi Warsameh / AP
Putting the needs of millions of starving Somalis above terrorism concerns, the United States moved Tuesday to reassure international aid organizations that they will not face prosecution under US law if humanitarian assistance falls into the hands of US-listed terrorist groups.
The threat of mass starvation is so great, particularly in parts of central and southern Somalia controlled by the Al Qaeda-affiliated organization Al Shabab, that saving lives must come before following the letter of anti-terrorist regulations, said officials from the State Department, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Treasury Department.
Humanitarian aid to southern Somalia largely dried up after Al Shabab took control of the region, and aid groups found themselves threatened by extremists on the ground and prosecution in the US, under Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
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