News / Africa

    UN Programs Accused of Aiding Extremists in Somalia

    More details of a confidential United Nations report on Somalia that accuses the U.N.'s World Food Program of unwittingly diverting food aid to Islamist extremists and criminals have surfaced.  This time, the World Food Program and the U.N.'s children's agency, UNICEF, are accused of working with a shady Somali businessman with close ties to al-Qaida-linked militants in the southwestern town of Baidoa.

    A section of the U.N. Monitoring Group's 74-page report on Somalia alleges that the Somali businessman, identified as Abdullah Ali "Luway," has been using his position as a contractor for the World Food Program and UNICEF to enrich himself and al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab Islamists in Baidoa.

    Abdullah Ali is described as a prominent businessman, who rents vehicles to both U.N. agencies in Baidoa and receives $3,000 every month from UNICEF as payment for the use of a building that formerly housed Somalia's transitional parliament.

    According to the U.N. report, Ali is also the local financier of the al-Shabab, listed as a terrorist organization by several western countries, including the United States.  Ali is said to be a close associate of al-Shabab leader Muktar Robow Abu Mansour and is suspected of helping al-Shabab loot the U.N. compound in Baidoa last July.   

    UNICEF officials say they have not seen the report, but will investigate the issue after they have had a chance to study it.  The World Food Program says it, too, is investigating the allegations against Ali.   

    In what the authors of the U.N. report called a "case study" in how U.N. agencies are unwittingly working with criminals in Somalia, Ali is alleged to have received more than $1.3 million in ransom last October for the release of three French aid workers with the humanitarian group Action Against Hunger who had been kidnapped by gunmen in July 2009.  

    World Food Program's spokesman, Peter Smerdon acknowledged that Ali worked with the U.N. food agency in 2008 and 2009, and there have been rumors as to what Ali's role may have been in the kidnapping of the international aid workers.

    But Smerdon says last July's kidnapping incident took place in the Kenyan town of Mandera and there were no French nationals among the hostages.

    "Action Against Hunger aid workers from Zimbabwe, Pakistan, and the United States were seized from the northeastern town of Mandera in July 2009 and released in October.  The Monitoring Group seems to have confused this with another kidnapping - which was of two French, a Bulgarian, and a Belgian working for Action Against Hunger - in Dhusamareb in 2008," he said.

    Smerdon says while the World Food Program is deeply concerned that one of its Somali contractors has been identified as a criminal with extremist ties, inaccuracies in the report raise questions about the thoroughness of the research.

    The World Food Program has contested what it said were inaccuracies in the report about the agency's operational record and spending in Somalia.  The U.N. report alleges that as much as half of the food aid in Somalia is being diverted to a network of contractors and local U.N. staff members, and Islamist militants.

    The Monitoring Group is urging U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launch an independent investigation into the World Food Program's operation in Somalia.  The U.N. food agency says it ready to cooperate with any investigation. 
    The Security Council is expected to discuss the report next week. 

    You May Like

    Multimedia Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora