Reuters AlertNet – U.S. says not playing politics with aid to Somalia

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 19 (Reuters) – U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice on Friday dismissed a U.N. official’s charge that the United States was withholding funds and aid to a U.N. food agency in Somalia for political reasons.This week, U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia Mark Bowden accused Washington of “politicization of serious humanitarian issues” after negotiations aimed at releasing millions of dollars for Somalia stalled.”First of all, we utterly reject that claim,” Rice told journalists. “We think it’s false and unfounded.”Rice called the World Food Program suspension of aid last month to parts of Somalia “an unfortunate development” but said the rebel group al Shabaab, fighting to overthrow the Western-backed government in Mogadishu, was to blame.”The reason why aid is not now proceeding to the people of southern Somalia is one reason alone and it’s quite clear: it’s al Shabaab’s attacks on WFP and other U.N. agencies, its kidnapping of innocent relief workers, its extortion of funds,” she said.

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