Sorely needed food such as grain and canned foods along with other supplies are reported to have been stolen and sold elsewhere. According to both the Somali government and the United Nations World Food Program, the amount of the supplies being stolen is not relatively significant (numbers are currently in the thousands), however both entities condemned the theft of “even the smallest amount of food from starving and vulnerable Somalis.”
Yet other officials in both structures estimate that at least 50% of the food aid is being stolen or delayed.
This is not the first case when food and other needed supplies have been “diverted” away from Somalis who need them.
Back in the years 1991 to 1992, when a famine struck Somalia, warlords and extreme militia-men often stole the food deliveries in significant enough numbers to provoke military involvement from other countries such as the United States of America.
This time it seems that both government soldiers and Somali militants are stealing food from refugee camps.
Reported cases detail stories about families being forced to give food to refugee camp guards as a form of “forced tribute” or simply extortion currency.
Furthermore, the presence of markets selling U.N.-labeled food that was stolen has increased in several locations including the capital of Mogadishu – right under the local government’s eyes.
Currently the situation is not chaotic enough to halt aid operations which would have an incredibly fatal effect on the starving population of nearly 3 million Somalis suffering from the famine and food crisis.
So far tens of thousands of people, including more than 20,000 infants, have died.
Earlier in the year, militant groups and religious extremists attempted to block incoming food shipments and aid operations.
Later the Somali government barely managed to push Somali rebels out of the battered capital city of Mogadishu.
(Cover Photo: Jeffrey Barbee/The New York Times)