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, theWashington 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.