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In Somalia, Food and Water Woes Risk Boosting al-Shabaab and Derailing Elections

MIN READApr 28, 2022 | 18:37 GMT

People wait for water with containers at a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Baidoa, Somalia, on Feb. 13, 2022.

People wait for water with containers at a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Baidoa, Somalia, on Feb. 13, 2022.

(YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images)

Widespread food and water shortages in Somalia risk boosting al-Shabaab's recruitment efforts and, in turn, its ability to conduct more terrorist attacks against politicians that could derail long-awaited elections and further undermine the country's overall security. In March, the spokesperson for al-Shabaab -- which has been active in Somalia since 2006 -- said the Islamist militant group had formed a special committee to respond to the ongoing drought in the Horn of Africa. The seven-member committee has reportedly visited several communities that have been heavily impacted by food and water shortages to deliver cooking oil, rice, sugar and other aid. While the group's violent attacks, forced evictions and other activities that harm civilians limit its popular appeal, al-Shabaab has a longstanding ''hearts and minds'' strategy in which it coerces local support by providing staple goods and resources. As the humanitarian situation worsens in Somalia, people living in the large swaths...

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