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

    Wife of IS Leader Charged in Death of US Hostage

    Suspect allegedly admitted to being responsible for American aid worker Kayla Mueller, who officials say was sexually abused and ‘owned’ by one IS member

    Year of the Monkey Could Prove Economic Balancing Act for China

    China is up against a tricky situation on the financial front, facing the need to fight capital flight while also stopping a further slide of foreign currency reserves

    Runners Attempt 26-mile South Pole Marathon in Sub-Zero Temperatures

    How alluring is running 26.2 miles at 10,000 feet when it’s minus 31 Celsius out?

    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.