UN agency investigating Somalia famine food thefts

The announcement came the day, UN Security Council made an urgent call in response to a 2.4-billion-dollar UN appeal.

United Nations: United Nations is investigating on the possible theft of food from supplies that were shipped to Somalia to counter the devastating famine, which killed tens of thousands, a spokesman said.

The UN`s World Food Programme will "suspend any parties found responsible" working within the agency, Farhan Haq, UN deputy spokesman, told reporters yesterday.

UN has not yet revealed details of how much food has been diverted. But the announcement of the investigation came on the day, the UN Security Council made an urgent call for governments to respond to a 2.4-billion-dollar UN appeal to counter the drought in East Africa.

More than 12.4 million individuals are at risk from starvation, as per the UN`s emergency relief coordination agency. "In response to reports of food aid being stolen, the World Food Programme says that through its monitoring systems, possible theft of food has been uncovered and is being investigated," Haq told a briefing.

"The World Food Programme adds that it will investigate all alleged instances and suspend any parties found responsible." The agency has "rigorous monitoring and controls" in Somalia, but "due to security dangers and restrictions, humanitarian supply lines remain highly vulnerable to looting, attack and diversion by armed groups," Haq added.

The 15-member Security Council expressed "serious concern" in a statement that the UN`s 2.4-billion-dollar famine appeal remains less than half-funded.

UN agencies are struggling to get aid to parts of Somalia that are readily controlled by the Islamist insurgents and the council warned "all parties and armed groups to ensure full, safe and
unhindered access for the timely delivery of humanitarian aid."

Amid rising concerns about Somalia`s future with the famine adding to a crippling insurgency, the Security Council gave "strong" backing to UN efforts to help the transitional government battling to establish its authority.

Somalia has had no effective government since the downfall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

Bureau Report

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