A severely-malnourished boy resting inside a makeshift tent at a refugee camp near Mogadishu, Somalia.
A dire famine in East Africa has caught the attention of the White House. They are loosing up some restrictions on organizations to help the severely drought-stricken area. The U.N. says more than 11 million people in the region need food assistance, and tens of thousands have already died from starvation.
Somalia has been the hardest hit. But not much help has been getting to people on the ground because of the al-Qaeda-linked militant group, al-Shabab, which controls large portions of the country. They’ve been preventing aid from reaching the hungry, threatening to kill aid workers and taking bribes on supplies.
However great the intentions, any aid groups who dealt with al-Shabab, say by paying those bribes, violated U.S. sanctions banning material support to designated terrorist organizations.
Looking to create more flexibility, the White House wants “to provide a wider range of aid to a larger number of areas in need,” spokesperson Jay Carney said today. “This new guidance should help clarify that aid workers who are partnering with the U.S. government to help save lives under difficult and dangerous conditions are not in conflict with U.S. laws and regulations.”
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