Somalia: A local aid group submits blackmail complaints by Hirshabelle officials

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MOGADISHU ( AXADLE) – A local aid organization has lodged a complaint about blackmail demands from Hirshabelle’s health officials in Jowhar at a time when 3.5 million Somalis are already facing acute food insecurity, as the number of severely malnourished children is also increasing.

The Nolol Awareness and Social Development Organization (NASDO), a local aid group in Middle Shabelle, has said that two of its children’s feeding centers were affected after gunmen accompanied by Hirshabelle health officials demanded extortion money to help the organization supply food and reach the severely malnourished children.

“The blackmail and threats posed by Ahmed Gomey, Hirshabelle’s head of malaria at the Ministry of Health, have become unbearable. The individual has resorted to fraudulent means by extorting money from aid agencies operating in Hirshabelle,” said NASDAQ Executive Director Abdirahman Mohamed Hassan.

According to WhatsApp messages that Horn Observer has seen, the official has followed NASDO for a while and asked for extortion money.

According to the reports, Gomey threatens to disrupt the life-saving activity if the organization does not “solve his demand for payment”.

“If you want to work in Jowhar, you have to pay me as UNICEF and others do,” referring to UNICEF, a UN agency responsible for providing humanitarian and development assistance to children.

The aid agency NASDO strongly condemns the actions of this official and said that it had reported to the Hirshabelle authorities and the independent anti-corruption commission.

Last week, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) had warned that the situation is likely to deteriorate further in the first half of 2022 without urgent and scaled-up support for communities in the drought-stricken regions.

“The growing humanitarian needs come at the end of an already challenging year. The government, humanitarian and resource partners must take the step to meet this latest challenge,” the FAO said in a statement released on Friday.

However, insecurity and blackmail from both al-Shabaab and regional authorities have hampered aid delivery to vulnerable communities. Minority communities are particularly excluded from receiving food aid and several incidents were reported in the lower and central Shabelle regions where powerful clan militias blocked displaced families for access to humanitarian aid.

Horn Observer contacted the Minister of Health and the Governor of Middle Shabelle, Hirshabelle, but did not answer our questions related to this specific incident.

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