Obama Lifts Anti-Terror Rule to Open Somalia Aid

Aid workers can now pay off al-Shabab
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 2, 2011 9:11 AM CDT
Children sit near their home as one, right, licks sand from his hand in a displacement camp in Dadaab, Kenya, Sunday, July 31, 2011.   (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)
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(Newser) – The US plans to back off an anti-terrorism rule that’s stemming the flow of aid to Somalis plagued by drought and famine. The current rules forbid US-funded groups from paying “taxes” or tolls to terrorist groups, the Washington Post explains. That’s proved untenable for aid workers in Somalia. Al-Qaeda ally al-Shabab controls much of the land hit by the famine, and has threatened or killed Western aid workers. “This is an instance where a lot of lives really could be saved if we could get aid flowing," says an aid worker.

The US has delayed in lifting the rule because it knows some of the aid will wind up in al-Shabab’s hands, experts say. Others fear al-Shabab will take credit for the aid itself. But with starvation-related deaths soaring into the thousands, “The question is, can we live with some diversion of aid to stop the famine?” asks one Somalia expert.

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