Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Meanwhile, in Somalia

The World Food Program (WFP) has halted its operations in southern Somalia:

After weeks of receiving threats and demands that it dismiss many female employees and pay a "security fee" to an Islamic extremist group, the United Nations World Food Program announced Tuesday that it was suspending food deliveries to one million people in southern Somalia indefinitely.

The cutoff, which includes the withdrawal of more than 40 local staff members, will affect roughly one third of the 2.8 million people whom the food program had anticipated feeding in Somalia in January.

The group, the al-Shabaab militia has Taliban-like plans for the Somali women. Well, for all women, perhaps, but their power doesn't reach everywhere. Thus, the women working for the WFP would only be allowed to continue working if they are health care workers dealing with female patients. Not otherwise.

I doubt it is that particular clause which caused the halting of operations. According to the Guardian:

At least four WFP staff have been killed in the last 18 months, and several of the agency's offices have been attacked.

Still, it's salutary not to forget what some types of religions have in mind for women.

And of course the ultimate suffering here is by the people who live in the area of hunger, including the women and children.