NAIROBI, 22 August 2007 (IRIN) – Allegations that humanitarian operations fuel insurgency in the Somali capital Mogadishu by the city’s mayor have been slammed as "irresponsible" by a minister in the fragile transitional government as analysts expressed concern.
Mayor Mohamed Umar Habeb (better known as Mohamed Dheere) told the local media on 20 August that the international community was feeding what he termed as "terrorists" and warned that they would have to deal with the consequences.
Minister of Justice Hassan Dhimbil Warsame told IRIN: "To say not to give food to the [displaced] people, most of them women and children, in these camps and call them terrorists is irresponsible. He is not fit to be the mayor of Mogadishu."
Warsame also said that he had raised the issue in parliament in the town of Baidoa, to be discussed "as a matter of serious concern".
A regional analyst based in the Kenyan capital Nairobi said the humanitarian community was very concerned that a Transitional Federal Government (TFG) official should make such hostile statements. "People displaced by the violence in Mogadishu are victims of a political conflict and this statement clearly sends the wrong message about their status and how they should be treated," he said.
The allegation would impact on aid delivery, he warned. "These statements create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation among the general population and hinder aid agencies trying to assist those affected by conflict and other disasters in Somalia."
The analyst, speaking on condition of anonymity, called on the international community to hold Mohamed Dheere and the government accountable for such behaviour: "Statements such as this only undermine the legitimacy of the TFG."
Civil society members in Mogadishu also raised concerns over the mayor’s statement. "We are disappointed by his utterances but not surprised," one source said. "To call them terrorists is not only irresponsible but dangerous."