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Somalia’s hungry not getting food aid

A United Nations Security Council report yet to be published calls for a complete shake up to the way food aid is handed out. Some 3.7 million Somalians - nearly half of the population - need aid.

The document, flags up a raft of problems so serious, that it asks Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to open an independent investigation into the World Food Program’s Somalia operations. It calls for the program to completely overhaul its whole food distribution system, The New York Times reported. As well as redirecting food aid, the report says local authorities are working with pirates who hijack ships along the coast. It alleges that Somali officials are selling places on trips to Europe and that many of the people in an official government entourage are actually pirates or members of militant groups who then disappear into Europe. “Some humanitarian resources, notably food aid, have been diverted to military uses,” the report said. “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 report comes as Somalia's government, with US military aid, is gearing up for a military operation against an Islamist insurgency linked to al-Qa'ida and retake Mogadishu, the nation's largely lawless capital. But the authors say Somalia's security forces "remain ineffective, disorganised and corrupt.’’ The allegations that food aid was going missing first came out last year. But the World Food Program said it found no proof and that it’s own recent investigations found no widespread abuse. But the monitoring report questions how thorough that probe was, and called for a new outside investigation of the United Nations agency. “We have not yet seen the report,” the World Food Program’s deputy executive director, Amir Abdulla, said yesterday. “But we will investigate all of the allegations, as we have always done in the past if questions have been raised about our operations.”  "Despite dangerous operating conditions, WFP has sought to follow all rules and regulations surrounding our operations," he said. "The provision of food aid has thus become a militarised business, with businessmen maintaining their own militias in order to protect their warehouses, convoys and distribution points. "Not surprisingly, WFP contractors have maintained some of the largest private militias in southern Somalia.’

By Hayley Jarvis for SOS Children