The European Union (EU) has suspended funding for the World Food Program (WFP) in Somalia after a UN investigation that discovered “widespread theft” and misuse of aid meant to avert famine in the country.
“In Somalia, WFP has been forced to end life-saving aid for 2.6 million people. This is what a funding crisis means: no $$, no food,” WFP chief Cindy McCain said in a brief statement posted on X, previously known as Twitter, on Tuesday.
The WFP or the EU mission in Somalia has yet to issue an official statement regarding the aid suspension.
According to the UN data, the EU has provided more than $7 million in humanitarian aid to the Horn of Africa region.
Acknowledging the possibility of the aid diversion, the Somali Disaster Management Agency (SoDMA) on Tuesday issued a statement, reiterating its commitment to investigate the findings of a recent internal UN report.
The UN and the Somali government have formed a joint task force to devise a collective strategy to reduce aid diversion and, ultimately, deepen the impact and efficacy of humanitarian assistance.
“The preliminary findings of the UN report highlight weaknesses within the current system of humanitarian distribution; therefore, we should strive for a new approach that ensures transparency, reduces multiple layers of subcontracting, and builds local and government ownership in the process, “said Commissioner SoDMA Mahamud Moalim.
Famine was averted in Somalia due to the collective efforts of the Somali government, international partners, and Somali communities at home and abroad, he said, adding that Mogadishu had not received specific data on the locations, amounts, and agencies involved in the alleged aid diversion when the UN provided a summary of the key findings and recommendations in July of this year.
This comes just hours after the WFP’s Somalia office announced that the country has pulled back from the brink of starvation, showing the impact of humanitarian assistance and rains. “But 4.3 million people, 1/4 of the population, are still trapped in protracted crisis-level hunger or worse – putting lives at risk. More support is urgently needed.”
Somalia is one of the worst drought-affected countries in the region, experiencing the worst drought in more than four decades with 8.25 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.