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

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora