Humanitarians warn against adding al-Shabab to UN sanctions list

Humanitarian groups and diplomats are warning the United Nations against adding al-Shabab to the same sanctions list as al-Qaida and the Islamic State group, saying it could cripple the delivery of aid in Somalia.

In recent months, Somalia’s neighbor Kenya has been advocating for the U.N. to list the group as a terrorist organization under Security Council Resolution 1267. It comes in the wake of an upsurge in attacks claimed by the group, including an attack in January on a hotel in Nairobi that killed 21 people, including aid and development workers.

In response to a July 13 attack in the Somali port city of Kismayo, Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma tweeted that it was “another reminder to the international community of the imperative to list the Al Shabaab, like all other terrorist groups, under the UNSC resolution 1267.”

However, such a move means humanitarian groups operating in Somalia would no longer benefit from an exemption that keeps their work in compliance with existing sanctions.

“There would be a chilling effect in the humanitarian response,” said Mark Yarnell, senior advocate and U.N. liaison for Refugees International. “Aid organizations would be concerned that if they carry out programs as they are doing now, without the humanitarian exemption, their work could essentially be criminalized.”