The World Food Program is condemning the looting of three of its warehouses in Guinea. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva the U.N. group says looters stole nearly 450 metric tons of food aid destined for school children and the poorest communities.
The World Food Program says one of its warehouses in the eastern city of Kankan was stripped bare of all its food stock, as well as household items by marauding local inhabitants Sunday, during violent disturbances in the city.
In addition, it says its office in Kankan was attacked by a mob throwing stones. It says its international staff was forced to flee to neighboring Mali to escape the violence.
WFP Spokesman, Simon Pluess, says two other warehouses near the town of Labe in central Guinea suffered a similar fate.
"The stolen food was meant for children which are involved in WFP's school feeding programs, as well as other non-emergency activities like food-for-work programs, programs for HIV/AIDS patients," he said. "At this point it is hard to know when we will be able to provide school meals again and other institutions with food aid as they rely on our aid."
A total of $350,000 worth of food was stolen. Pluess says he understands people in the country are frustrated and angry at the political situation. But, he says that is no justification for taking food that would have gone to feed 200,000 hungry children. He says many poor and vulnerable people now are suffering as a result of these actions.
"The violence which is sweeping through Guinea forced WFP to suspend temporarily all its operations," Pluess said. "Although, there were distributions to the most needy Liberians and Ivorian refugees have already been completed."
The World Food Program says many people are suffering an acute loss of income resulting from the strike and civil unrest and it is likely more people will need food aid if the situation in Guinea further deteriorate.