The World Food Program, the branch of the United Nations that deals with food aid, is investigating its operations in Somalia because, according to a new Security Council Report, about half of the food aid sent to Somalia is actually ending up in the hands of corrupt authority figures.
United Press International reports that the food aid has been diverted for military uses and has wound up in the hands of powerful leaders who channel the profits and/or the aid itself. They then mention that Somali authorities have also been cooperating with pirates who hijack ships along the coast.
The New York Times gives more attention to the issue of Somali authorities' collaboration with pirates. They say Somali government ministers have auctioned off diplomatic visas for trips to Europe to the highest bidder- sometimes $10,000-$15,000-- and sometimes that bidder is a pirate who then goes to Europe and never returns.
According to both sources, the World Food Program deputy executive director Amir Abdulla said officials have not yet seen the report but are investigating the allegations anyway. The New York Times also added that the report has not been made public but was shown to them by diplomats.
Some of the report's authors have even received death threats, the New York Times reports, and had to be moved from Kenya to New York for safety reasons.
Both sources also said that the United States is providing Somalia with military aid to help reclaim their capital, Mogadishu, to combat Al Qaeda connections. The New York Times adds that although the United Nations is trying to roll back two decades of anarchy in the country, it may be an "uphill battle" because of Somalia's corrupt and disorganized security forces.
So far, the Somali authorities have denied the visa problem, and the World Food Program said it would investigate the report further once it was presented to the Security Council on March 16, the New York Times reports.