HARGEISA, 12 November 2009 (Somalilandpress) – Don’t promote democracy, fire all women, don’t take Sundays off and remove all logos from your vehicles: these are only some of the 11 new rules Somalia’s Shabaab rebels want to slap on aid groups.
According to a document obtained by AFP on Friday and issued two days earlier by the authorities for the south-central Bay and Bakool region – the country’s main humanitarian hub – aid groups should comply with tough new guidelines.
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“We are notifying all aid agencies operating in Bay and Bakool region that we will ensure their security 100%… and that the Islamic state of Bay and Bakool will issue permits once the following conditions are met,” it says.
The list of requirements, which was distributed to local aid group representatives on Thursday, includes a registration fee of $20 000 payable twice a year.
Several humanitarian organizations confirmed receiving the document, which bears the Shabaab’s logo, but no official from the al-Qaeda-inspired insurgent group was immediately willing to comment on the record.
High-ranking Shabaab and security officials however confirmed the document’s authenticity, but also said that some of the insurgent group’s leaders thought the conditions too harsh and were pushing for the document to be re-examined.
Bay and Bakool are the main hub for the international aid efforts in the Horn of Africa country, where the Western-backed central government is unable to assert its authority a few blocks beyond the presidency in Mogadishu.
The United Nations has its largest humanitarian compound there, in the town of Wajid, and most aid organizations have already been weeded out from other regions under Islamist control.
The document imposes draconian conditions concerning women employees, who should all be replaced with men within three months.
Aid organizations “should distance (themselves) from anything that will affect proper Islamic culture… like promoting adultery and establishing women’s groups.”
World Women’s Day is singled out along with Christmas and World Aids Day as proscribed celebrations, while “preaching democracy” is also listed as a value “interfering with Islam” that should be banned.
The Shabaab also reiterated a ban on alcohol and movies and also insisted that all humanitarian organizations’’ logos should be removed from vehicles and all flags be taken down.