In Somalia, No Distribution of WFP Food Aid for ICRC

Executive Director of World Food Programme Josette Sheeran with Minister Counselor of the Australian Agency for International Development Jamie Isbister hold a sack of wheat in northeastern Kenya. Food from the WFP will not be distributed by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Photo by: Siegfried Modola / WFP

The International Committee of the Red Cross announced Aug. 4 that it is scaling up food aid operations in Somalia but also stressed that it would not be able to help other humanitarian groups, particularly U.N. agencies, distribute aid in militant-controlled areas in the famine-hit country.

To finance its scaled-up response, the group is appealing for an additional $86 million from donors. ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger said his group needs the additional funds to buy more food supplies to be distributed in famine-hit areas of Somalia.

Kellenberger said that ICRC, which is able to access parts of southern Somalia, including areas controlled by the al-Shabab militant group, is short of supplies, unlike other aid agencies such as the World Food Program.

WFP has said it has food aid and other relief supplies on standby but it is unable to start distribution because al-Shabab has banned it from entering areas under its control. The aid agency is working with other organizations to distribute food aid in southern Somalia.

ICRC, however, is not open to distributing food aid on behalf of WFP, Kellenberger said.

“The ICRC is an independent agency, for reasons you’ll understand, for its protection,” he said, according to Reuters. “And I think that’s important for its perception, for its personality, especially in delicate contexts like this. I have also to add that there would also be certain logistic problems.”

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.