Up to one-half of Somali food aid diverted from needy

Friday, March 12, 2010


Logo of the World Food Programme
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

According to a leaked United Nations report, up to one-half of all food aid to Somalia from the World Food Programme (WFP) is diverted to local contractors and militants.

The United Nations monitoring group in Somalia authored the report, which has not yet been publicly introduced, but was shown by diplomats to the The New York Times, and is to be formally presented on March 16. According to the document, food aid to Somalia is regularly diverted to a complex network of contractors for the United Nations within the country, who in turn have moved either the aid itself or monetary profits from the transportation of it to armed militant groups within Somalia.

A part of the report said that "A handful of Somali contractors for aid agencies have formed a cartel and become important power brokers—some of whom channel their profits, or the aid itself, directly to armed opposition groups."

The WFP, which is in charge of the aid, was heavily criticized for its actions regarding to Somalian aid, particularly the contracts for the movement of the aid, which the report claims are largely awarded to three Somali businessman who are alleged to have connections to militant groups. The report also blames problems with the general distribution of aid in the country, where the lack of a functioning government has led to "ineffective, disorganized and corrupt" security forces. It suggests that the only way to resolve these problems is to completely overhaul the aid system to break the control of aid by local forces.

The integrity of our organisation is paramount and we will be reviewing and investigating each and every issue raised by this report

—Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Program

The WFP has denied previous allegations of corruption and abuse in Somalia, but it said that it would investigate the findings of the new report. The programs' executive director also released a statement saying, "The integrity of our organisation is paramount and we will be reviewing and investigating each and every issue raised by this report."

Allegations that food aid was being diverted also arose last year, which led the United States to reduce funding to Somalia, for fears that aid was ending up with the Islamic group al-Shabaab. Since then, the WFP has been banned by al-Shabaab from operating in Somalia, a move that followed the WFP's suspension of operations in southern Somalia amid attacks from militants.

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