Over Half of Somalia’s Food Aid is Being Stolen, Sources Say


Every time I sit down to write a post about the crisis in the Horn of Africa, it seems like the situation couldn’t get worse.  And then, somehow, it does.  The Associated Press uncovered an underground market for stolen food aid, which appears to be thriving in Somalia.  Yes, that’s right — people may be stealing humanitarian food supplies from organizations like the United Nations, and reselling them in markets.

According to the AP’s sources, “an official in Mogadishu with extensive knowledge of the food trade said he believes a massive amount of aid is being stolen — perhaps up to half of recent aid deliveries.”

The UN’s World Food Program admitted to that they’ve been investigating the possibility of food theft.  But they claim that the scale of the alleged theft is implausible.  ”The scale of theft suggested would require a logistical operation comparable in size to what we are doing in Mogadishu,” said a WFP spokesman.

The WFP condemned the possibility of theft, even in the smallest proportions.  And considering that 12 million Somalis are in desperate need of aid, the WFP can’t afford to lose any of its supplies to theft, no matter the scale.  The AP’s allegations are disturbing.  Whether they are fully true is another question.  It does seem undeniable that aid workers face difficult challenges in providing food access and that they need to do more to protect humanitarian aid.  This may be impossible, however, given their limited resources.

According to the Guardian, “[The WFP] noted that it had put in place strengthened and rigorous monitoring and controls for its relief operations, but – given the lack of access to some areas because of security concerns and restrictions – humanitarian supply lines remained highly vulnerable to looting, attacks and diversion by armed groups.”

The situation is grim in Somalia.  And it looks like it will get worse before it gets better.

Related Stories:

Clinton Announces $17 Million in Food Aid to Somalia

Militants Stop Aid From Reaching Dying Somalis

Women Raped as Food Crisis Expands in Somalia

Photo from Oxfam East Africa via flickr.


Janine H.
Janine H6 years ago

very sad... Europe, USA, etc always have so much food, and so much which is thrown away every day. And other countries have famines, wars, catastrophes,... they would be happy if "we" could give them the overabundance.

"Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten."
(Native American proverb)

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

Berny P.
Berny p6 years ago

it's the way it always happens.

you send aid to the folks that need it but their own take it away from them.

look at haiti how many billions of dollars went over there and they still are living in tents.

i'm not sure we do any good spending all that money for others to steal it.

So no surprised that many people do not give anymore....I understand why!

Roger Monk
Past Member 6 years ago

Just how depressing is that? Sometimes you despair for the human race, don't you?

Patrick F.
Patrick f6 years ago

508 million should include soldiers to oversee the distribution.

Tom G.
Tom G.6 years ago

prayers for somalia

Tom G.
Tom G.6 years ago

that is so sad

Suzanne H.
Suzanne H6 years ago

This is simply unconscionable.....

Deborah L.
Deborah Lashever6 years ago

They rely on people being generous and emotional. There are websites that you can go to that shows what % of the money they get goes to admin stuff but as far as real theft it is hard to tell, especially when it occurs after it leaves the U.S..

That seems to be the way of things today--take advantage of the truly needy. And you don't have to go overseas to feel the greed. Just look at the large corprations, banks, etc and check out what Congress is up to! Same stuff, different day.

Patricia W.
Patricia W6 years ago

Patrick F and Morgan G - you both hit the nail directly on its head. Everything is politics. And I also agree with Lynn S. - while I hate the thought that some POS is making money off the lives of their fellow countrymen, I do retain hope that someone somewhere is getting helped. What else can we do?

Wendy L.
W L6 years ago

Yes, horrendous thefts occur in desperately needy nations worldwide--with or without warlords. Let us all continue to donate time, money or talent to non-profits. Let goodness prevail.