Al-shabaab : “we did not jail any UNICEF staff, save a driver working for ICRC”

Somalimemo- a Somali language website which regularly interviews high ranking officials of Harakat – Al-shabaab Al-mujahideen (HSM), reported yesterday, that the Movement clarified it did not arrest staff working for UNICEF, in fact the one arrest made had nothing to do with international aid organizations parse, on the contrary to news reports suggesting the movement is back tracking on it permission to allow aid agencies to operate.

here is a translated excerpt from the article.

“It was confirmed to SomaliMemo, that the head of security for UNICEF (Ali Moallim Black) was not arrested, moreover reports (of the arrests) in the media were made up lies. Similarly officials of (sl-shabaab’s) baidoa city Hisbah forces told SomaliMemo, that they jailed a driver (Abdirizak Mohamed) working for the International committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) having found immoral/lewd movies in his mobile phone.” [1]

Just to clarify what a “hisbah” is (variant Hisba,al-hisba,al-hisbah), it’s a morality force deployed by local Al-shabaab administrations throughout central and southern Somalia similar to the Saudi committee of Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, but with much more powers.

The article goes on to say that “the detained driver named Abdirizaq was not arrested on political grounds”, and furthermore somalimemo report quoting the shabaab officials on the condition of Abdirizaq, states that he “was not harmed” in the process.

Substantiating this, further news reports have now emerged suggesting, earlier reports of “kidnapping” or “arrests” were just exaggerated.

In my opinion what seems to have happened is that, al-shabaab perhaps took aid organisation employees for questioning, but with Al-shabaab and Aid agencies arrests titles being synonymous with Al-shabaabs banning of aid agencies and aid agencies suspicion of the group it was blown out of proportion, sparking doubt in the aid community about al-shabaabs willingness to admit them in areas under their control.


[1] Translated from somalimemo article (

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