Somalia’s government is taking a stand against food aid corruption and has fired one official and suspended another as a result.
The move by Somali officials appears to be a strong sign that officials are attempting to thwart the theft of food aid that is still desperately needed for around 4 million people suffering famine conditions throughout the country.
Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali told the Associated Press, “We will not allow anyone to steal food aid. We have zero tolerance for corruption.”
Back in August it was announced that thousands of sacks of food aid meant for Somalia’s drought- and famine-impacted victims had been stolen. One official in Mogadishu told AP that he believed that up to half of aid deliveries were being diverted and going into the hands of corrupt government officials and businessmen.
In another crackdown on food aid corruption, officials from Somalia’s government launched an investigation Monday evening into claims of expired food being stolen and resold on the market. Police arrested 22 people in the bust and seized dozens of bags of expired food.
Somalia is currently confronting the worst famine the population has faced in a generation. When the famine struck it was quickly labeled by the international community as “the children’s famine” due to the astronomical impact the lack of food was having on children. Since July the famine has caused the deaths of nearly 30,000 children throughout the Horn of Africa.
Now, with the rainy season beginning in Somalia, aid workers are raising concerns that the famine can bring about even more death through the spread of diseases like cholera disseminating in overpopulated camps with people whose immune systems are weakened due to months of extreme malnutrition.
Meanwhile, food aid still remains unable to get through to many in Somalia due to Al Shabab. Ken Menkhaus of the Enough Project wrote last week that half a million victims of the Somalia famine are still unable to receive food aid as a result of the militant group thwarting the desperately needed food aid and assistance.
Menkhaus wrote, “Given the bizarre and extremist behavior of Al Shabab, it is not clear that the West and the United Nations can realistically do much to help the 500,000 victims trapped in territory under its control.”