UN Acts to Block Aid Diversion in Somalia

The United Nations is implementing a "risk management plan" to address problems uncovered in delivering aid to Somalia, including diversion of food assistance to corrupt contractors, Islamist militants and local U.N. staff. Photo by: WFP/Peter Smerdon

The United Nations is moving to prevent aid from being redirected to Islamist militants in Somalia. a U.N. report reveals.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon, in his latest report to the Security Council, said the U.N. country team in Somalia has started carrying out a “risk management action plan” to deal with the findings of the U.N. Somalia monitoring group’s March report. The group disclosed that as much as half the food aid sent to Somalia is redirected to corrupt contractors, Islamist militants and local U.N. staff, Reuters reports.

A database has also been designed to consolidate details on all U.N. service providers and contractors in Somalia so they can be appropriately screened, Ban added.

Meanwhile, top U.N. envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, rejected claims that it was either too late or too early for next week’s Istanbul Conference on Somalia. The high-level gathering offers a window of opportunity to show that “Somalia had true friends ready to make a difference” this year, which marks the nation’s 50 years of independence.

“We should all recognize that, after years of anarchy, there will never be a right time in Somalia. We have to act now,” Ould-Abdallah said in a briefing.

The U.N. hopes that political reconciliation would be considered at the meeting slated for May 21-23, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe said, stressing the need for the Somali government to reach out to more factions. Moreover, training Somali security forces is high on the U.N. agenda as the world body called on donors to help close the funding deficit on the payment of salaries of Somali police.

“We are appealing to donors to help fill that gap. Also related to security, more needs to be done to shore up AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia),” Pascoe added.

U.S. Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs Brooke Anderson echoes the same sentiment, stressing that the supporting AMISOM is “central to our strategy to stabilize Mogadishu and support the Somali peace process.” The U.S., she said, has committed some USD174 million for logistics support, equipment, and pre-deployment training to AMISOM forces.

“We encourage other nations to step forward with additional contributions,” Anderson said at a U.N. Security Council debate on Somalia.

The meeting will also include discussions between representatives of the Somali government, U.N. member states, private sector and international business investors. Turkish Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan hopes that strategies and plans would materialize from the meeting to help create jobs, bolster local businesses, and promote social and economic development.

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, meanwhile, requested for an additional USD60 million to assist forcibly displaced Somalis within the nation and in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Yemen. The new financing will be used to bolster water supply, shelter and health facilities in existing camps. The U.N. agency will also tap the fresh funding to set up two new Somali refugee camps in Yemen and Djibouti.

About the author

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    Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.