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

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs