Investigation Finds Massive Theft of Somalia Food Aid

One official estimates up to half of aid deliveries are stolen
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 15, 2011 2:02 PM CDT
Investigation Finds Massive Theft of Somalia Food Aid
A Somali child walks through the makeshift shelters in a refugee camp in Mogadishu, Somalia, Monday, Aug 15, 2011.   (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

Thousands of sacks of food aid meant for Somalia's famine victims have been stolen and are being sold at markets in the same neighborhoods where skeletal children in filthy refugee camps can't find enough to eat, an AP investigation finds. The UN's World Food Program for the first time acknowledged it has been investigating food theft in Somalia for two months, and said that the "scale and intensity" of the famine crisis does not allow for a suspension of assistance, saying that doing so would lead to "many unnecessary deaths."

In Mogadishu markets, vast piles of food sacks are for sale with stamps on them from the World Food Program, the US government aid arm USAID, and the Japanese government. The AP found eight sites where aid food was being sold in bulk and numerous smaller stores. The aid is not even safe once it has been distributed to families huddled in the makeshift camps popping up around the capital. Families at the large, government-run Badbado camp, where several aid groups have been distributing food, said they were often forced to hand back aid after journalists had taken photos of them with it. (Read more Somalia stories.)

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