But there are accusations of human rights abuses on both sides. The United Nation's World Food Program was unable to distribute aid to regions the government deemed "terrorist friendly" for several months. And international humanitarian organizations like the United Nations, Doctors without Borders and Care have been forced to pull all international staff out of Somalia due to safety concerns.
Ali says that in the last year Al-Shabaab has specifically targeted foreign aid workers and even locals who work with them. "They are targeting them because they are saying these are not going under our Sharia of Al-Shabaab," he says. "So long as they are there we cannot tolerate them to be with us in one country. That's why they fight the United Nations."
But the humanitarian organizations say it's really the people of Somalia who are paying the ultimate price. It's estimated that more than 1 million people have been internally displaced because of the fighting, and 10,000 civilians have been killed in the last two years. Because of insecurity and piracy attacks, the World Food Program consistently has problems delivering aid, resulting in a warning that if the situation doesn't improve millions of Somalis could starve over the course of the next year. The United Nations now calls Somalia, the "worst humanitarian crisis in Africa," worse than the Democratic Republic of Congo, or even Darfur.
Aidan Hartley a journalist and documentary filmmaker who's been covering Somalia for more than 20 years told ABC News that he believes the world ignores Somalia and Al-Shabaab at its own peril. "Look at Afghanistan, which for many years was like Somalia: a forgotten conflict…there didn't seem to be anything the West could do to help. They provided humanitarian relief, as they are doing in Somalia today, but they didn't come up with solutions or anything with the urgency that was required," said Hartley "Al Qaeda took hold, the country had to be invaded by Western troops. Now you have a protracted and very difficult conflict to resolve."
"The West and the international community would be well warned to look at the Somali situation and try to urgently come up with solutions."