The Indianpost

Somalia food aid won’t slow amid fraud probe

The United Nations World Food Program insisted Tuesday it won’t reduce emergency aid shipments to Somalia despite allegations of fraud, saying that though such complaints are frequent it doesn’t believe there have been big losses.

WFP said it is bringing 5,000 tons a month of food into the Somali capital of Mogadishu to help the famine-hit nation. Tens of thousands of people each week are fleeing famine in Somalia to neighbouring Ethiopia and Kenya.

But an investigation on the ground by The Associated Press found that sacks of grain, peanut butter snacks and other food staples meant for starving Somalis are being stolen and sold in Somali markets, raising concerns that the unscrupulous are stealing from international famine relief efforts. One Mogadishu official estimated to the AP that up to half of the recent food aid may have been stolen.

WFP officials disputed that figure Tuesday. Lauren Landis, the new director of WFP’s Geneva office, said it seems “implausible” that a large amount of food is being diverted because it would pose a huge logistical challenge.

“Large losses of food is abnormal, because we know how to do this,” Landis told AP, without elaborating further.

She said theft worries are common with WFP operations in Somalia and around the world.

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