Sunday, 1 October 2023


EU temporarily holds back food aid in Somalia after UN records widespread theft By Reuters

EU temporarily holds back food aid in Somalia after UN records widespread theft

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: European flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium March 13, 2023. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

By Gabriela Baczynska, Michelle Nichols, Aaron Ross and Emma Farge

UNITED NATIONS/NAIROBI/GENEVA (Reuters) – The European Union executive has temporarily suspended funding for the World Food Programme (WFP) in Somalia, two senior EU officials told Reuters on Monday, after a U.N. investigation found widespread theft and misuse of aid, which had been meant to avert a famine.

The European Commission gave more than $7 million in aid to the WFP’s operations in Somalia last year, a fraction of the more than $1 billion it received in total donations, according to U.N. data.

EU member states gave much more money on a bilateral basis. It was not immediately clear whether any would also suspend aid.

Balazs Ujvari, a spokesman for the European Commission, neither confirmed nor denied specifically a temporary suspension but said: “So far, the EU has not been informed by its UN partners of a financial impact on EU-funded projects.

“Nevertheless, we will continue to monitor the situation and abide by our zero-tolerance approach to fraud, corruption or misconduct,” he said.

The WFP did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

One senior EU official said the decision was taken after the U.N. investigation concluded that landowners, local authorities, members of the security forces and humanitarian workers were all involved in stealing aid intended for vulnerable people.

This official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the aid would be restored after the WFP meets additional conditions, including on vetting of partners on the ground in Somalia. The second senior EU official confirmed that.

A third source, also an EU official, said the Commission was “cooperating actively with WFP to resolve systemic defects” but said no aid was suspended at this stage.

The July 7 report, which is marked “strictly confidential,” was commissioned by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, according to a copy reviewed by Reuters. The contents of the report were first published on Monday by Devex, a media outlet focused on international development.

It cited internally displaced persons (IDPs) as saying they were coerced into paying up to half of the cash assistance they received to people in positions of power in the face of threats of eviction, arrest or de-registration from beneficiary lists.

Three months…

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