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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Somali Aid Stolen

Millions of people are starving to death. Food and money has been, and continues to be, sent into Somalia. I presume into the Mogadishu port facility. In spite of alleged rigorous monitoring and control by the UN WFP up to half of the food aid that comes in ends up being stolen.
My opinion is that the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is the largest money making scheme in history. Bernie Madoff could not have had a better plan. It is time for the world to require Somalia to stand up as its own country. Push the bird out of the nest.

After the end of the Siad Barre bloody and violent regime fell, there was a famine. In 1992 the UN and the US went into Somalia under Operation Restore Hope, although, I seriously doubt there was any real hope.  The purpose for being there was to ensure the safety of food and aid going to the people of Somalia. The world sends in help and gets thanked with RPGs, machine guns, and grenades.
Fast forward 15 years, and nothing has gotten any better. In 2007 muslim fighters for al-Shabaab shot down two aid planes, one was incapacitated the other spread over two miles of desolate Somali ground. During the 15 year spread the TFG was established, spent most of its infancy living and “ruling” (ha!) from Kenya, and was forced (yes, kicked out of Kenya forcibly) to move into  Somalia to rule. Since then, they have been corrupt, weak, backstabbing, in-fighting, nepotistic opportunists.
Now, 2011, nearly 20 years after the world’s last attempt at helping Somalia and its people, nothing is better and nothing has changed. The World Food Program (WFP) now acknowledges that there has been some theft of aid. They have been investigating this for two months. I have been watching this go on for years via the internet and newspapers.
As officials claimed and news reports persisted the UN could no longer deny that its aid was being stolen.  It appears that the UN found its WFP supplies being sold at Bakara Market. This also happens to be one of the largest open air gun and goat markets in the region. At one of the sites for stolen food aid, about a dozen corrugated iron sheds are stacked with sacks. Outside, women sell food from open 110-pound (50-kilogram) sacks, and traders load the food onto carts or vehicles under the indifferent eyes of local officials.
It turns out that at the TFG run Baidoa Camp, a refugee camp located outside of Mogadishu, the management of the “camp” required a 50% kickback of supplies given by the WFP. If the kickback was questioned or sneered at in any way that person and his family was ejected from the camp, and this was probably not done in a sweet or gentle manner. As horrific as the camps are, they are preferred over the war zone that is Mogadishu.
Working in the region giving aid is dangerous. There are numerous ways to be killed for simply having food to give out. WFP has had 14 employees killed in Somalia since 2008. As a result of these and earlier deaths (including the machine gun execution of all members of a WFP convoy in mid 2007) the UN is calling for greater steps and assurances of security from the TFG and its allied organizations, transitional federal institutions (TFI). Aid will be allotted based on the TFI achieving certain benchmarks of security, but what those are is unclear at this time.

Theft of aid will continue. Violence will continue to strangle efforts to aid the people of Somalia. Until the realization is made that the people and government of Somalia have to stand up and behave in a civilized manner, nothing is going to change. As a result, and as harsh as this sounds, all aid to Somalia needs to stop. The UN has said that there are benchmarks to be reached in order to get more aid, and I agree with this, in principle. If Somalia can meet certain benchmarks of civility, security, and common good they can receive assistance. But they have to stand up and calmly walk to the help. We should no longer bring it to them so they can kill us for it.

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