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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 May, 2003, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
War on terror hits Somali orphans
By Hassan Barise
BBC, Mogadishu

Thousands of Somali orphans cared for by a Saudi aid agency could have their lives affected by the United States' war on terror.

Sign for al-Barakat bank
Somalia's biggest company was closed down for alleged terror links
The Saudi Arabia Government has ordered its international staff working for al-Haramain aid agencies to leave Somalia after a recent allegation from the United States Government that it has links with terrorist organisations.

The offices of al-Haramain have already been closed in Bosnia, Croatia, Indonesia and Malaysia.

In the last few days the Ethiopian, Kenyan and Tanzanian offices have also been told to close, according to al-Haramain officials.

Food worries

> He said: "Our camps hardly have enough food stocks for the next 10 days... and we don't know what will happen after that".

Despite his worried expression, Mr Qumaysi said that the orphanage has been contacted by Somalis living abroad who are related to the orphans and told them to keep the children for a while, while they look for money.

Some Somali businessmen have also asked teachers at the orphanages not to send the children onto the streets, but to wait as they try and raise the funds.

Mr Qumaysi said: "It is strange that the US says the Muslim aid agencies are terrorists, but they don't bring their own agencies to replace them. Isn't this just another way of killing the orphans whose parents have died during civil strive in Somalia?"

Transit point

Al-Haramain has five orphanages in Mogadishu as well as others in Merca, Burao and the self-declared Republic of Somaliland. They employ over 700 people.

This is not the first time that al-Haramain has been accused of having links with terrorist organisations.

About a year ago it was put on a US list of terror groups, and then later removed.

Mr Qumaysi said the al-Haramain office in New York remains operational, but nobody knows why their offices are being closed down.

Last month, a United Nations report found no evidence that international terror groups were based in Somalia.

However, the 62-page report does say that those responsible for recent terror attacks in East Africa passed through Somalia.




SEE ALSO:
Somalia 'not terror haven'
03 Apr 03  |  Africa
War on terror Africa-style
21 Feb 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Somalia
06 Mar 03  |  Country profiles


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