The terrorist group al-Shabab are saying nobody is starving in the areas they control in Somalia and have warned aid agencies to stay away.
"Those earlier banned groups are not welcome to serve in our area of control," Shabab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage said in a broadcast on the Islamist Al Furqaan radio on Friday. "There is drought in Somalia but not famine - what is declared by the UN is 100 per cent false."
"The declaration of famine is political and is a lie with hidden agendas," he added, saying only that there has been "a shortage of rain".
The UN's World Food Programme (WFP), one of the aid groups banned by al- Shabab, said on Friday that it would fly aid into the capital "within days".
Somalia is the worst affected country in the drought-hit Horn of Africa region, where the UN says that more than 3.7 million people are at risk of starvation.
Meanwhile, US law that forbids any government money going to projects that might "materially benefit" terrorist groups. The agency that decides on enforcement (Office of Foreign Asset Control - OFAC)) is looking for a workaround:
"We have not ourselves had any contacts with Al Shabab, and would not," Mr. Carson says. "But we are talking to NGOs who operate in the area to determine whether they are being allowed deliver food unhindered, and without any loss of food and without the payment of any bribes. The thing that we are clearly not trying to do is to allow food that is intended for victims to be siphoned off by an international terrorist group."
Mr. Konyndyk at Mercy Corps said the world's efforts to address Somalia's drought "will remain totally inadequate if legal restrictions force the US to remain on the sidelines."
NGO's are not set up to distribute food to millions of people. The kind of massive aid being talked about needs infrastructure - warehouses, trucks, fuel, and thousands of people. It needs working ports and dockworkers too -- something lacking in Somalia.
George H.W. Bush sent in the Marines when faced with this kind of famine before. They built a port, constructed warehouses, patroled famine hit areas and generally allowed the aid agencies to do their work. That probably won't happen this time, although the UN is making "Responsibility to Protect" noises so anything is possible.
This is another man made famine but with terrorists playing the role of government in denying food to those who oppose them. Without some kind of military intervention by someone, it is likely to end very badly.