08/05/2011 11:33 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Somalia Famine Denied By Al Shabab, Militant Group

Even as the U.S. estimates that 29,000 children have died of malnutrition and related illnesses in Somalia, al Shabab, the militant group that controls large swaths of the country, has denied there is a famine.

Journalist Jamal Osman ventured inside some of the hardest hit regions. While there, he spoke with al Shabaab spokesman Sheik Ali Dhere, who, in his first Western television interview, denied there was a famine taking place.

"The famine has been averted due to support and aid from business, the Somali communities and the Muslim community," he told Osman. "And even though there was a drought, people have received widespread relief and support from outside communities. So there is no famine - but there is a drought."

As Channel 4 reports, he also insisted that the group has not blocked aid groups from operating in their territory. "We've only refused those who would do more harm than good," Dhere said, "and those agencies with political agendas."

Meanwhile, the UN reports that the famine has swelled the ranks of the militant group as the organization hands out money while food prices skyrocket.

Watch Channel 4's interview with al Shabab's spokesman below: