Drought, famine and civil war leave millions hungry in Somalia. Image: expertininfantry/Flickr/CC BY

The U.N.’s World Food Program said today that it has been investigating the theft of donated food in famine-ravaged Somalia for two months now. An investigation by the Associated Press earlier revealed that about half of food supplies donated to Somalia are regularly stolen and sold in markets in the same community where children are dying of starvation.

Under the gaze of officials

The AP has reported seeing eight sites where WFP food sacks are stockpiled and sold in the marketplaces of Mogadishu, the county’s capital city. All this is done in the open and right under the gaze of local officials.

From the hands of the needy

Some reports indicate that the food is not even safe once it has been delivered to the needy. Often, according to reports, they are forced to give food back after journalists have photographed them with it.

Ali Said Nur, who lives at the government-run camp Badbado, said that twice he had been given two sacks of corn, and both times he had to give one of them back to the camp ruler.

“You don’t have a choice,” Nur said. “You have to simply give without an argument to be able to stay here.”

29,000 children

According to the U.N., nearly half of all 3.2 million Somalis are in need of food. A severe drought has led to famine in a country already plagued by a 20-year-long civil war. Many famine-plagued zones are controlled by militants linked to the al-Qaida terrorist network. Approximately 29,000 Somali children under the age of 5 have already died during the current crisis.

‘A particularly dangerous process’

“Monitoring food assistance in Somalia is a particularly dangerous process,” said WFP Somalia director Stefano Porretti. Since 2008, 14 WFP employees have been killed working in Somalia.

Need is too great

Some in the U.S. have suggested that aid be suspended to the African nation as long as this kind of corruption is allowed to continue. The WFP has responded that that the “scale and intensity” of the crisis is so great that suspension of assistance is not an option, as it would lead to “many unnecessary deaths.”


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