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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
Obama Lifts Anti-Terror Rule to Open Somalia Aid
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)

(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.

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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. (Read more Somalia stories.)

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