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ICC Note: Al-Shabaab has been preying on the poorest and hardest hit villages in Somali to continue recruiting and getting supplies. They steal hundreds of children to regrow their depleted forces, and take whatever supplies that they can when these villages receive support. This has led to an increased crisis in Somalia.

03/15/2018 Somalia (The Star) – Reports have emerged of how al Shabaab militants in Somalia are extorting huge sums from starving communities.

The militants are also forcibly recruiting hundreds of children as soldiers and suicide bombers.

This comes as the terror group endures financial pressures, a decrease in numbers and an apparent crisis of morale.

Intelligence documents, transcripts of interrogations from recent defectors, and interviews conducted on returnees by security agents confirm the situation.

“Worse is that they lurk in the villages waiting for us to receive any food or medical aid from the AMISOM troops or humanitarian organisations and then they forcibly come for them,” Omar from Gedo region said in an interview.

“They even confiscate painkillers from mothers who have just delivered.”

After decades of causing havoc in the south and central Somalia as well as in Mogadishu, al Shabaab was forced to retreat to rural areas following an intervention by AMISOM troops.

With the current drought in Somalia and the continuing bombardment from the Somalia National Army, AMISOM, and its international partners, it now appears that the militants are not only suffering operational defeat but are also suffering a crisis of morale and financial pressure.

This has prompted the drive to squeeze revenue out of poor rural communities.

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For interviews with Nathan Johnson, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org