This measure follows a UN report on the theft of humanitarian aid intended to feed insecure populations in this African country.
The European Union has temporarily suspended funding to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) in Somalia, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing two senior EU officials.
The move comes after a UN investigation reportedly found a growing trend of theft and misuse of aid intended to avert famine in the Horn of Africa, where the WFP had earlier predicted this. year that 6.6 million people would face critical levels of hunger.
An unnamed senior European official who spoke to Reuters claimed the U.N. investigation found landowners, local governments, security personnel and aid workers were all involved in the aid diversion food intended for the population experiencing food insecurity.
Aid will be restored once WFP meets certain requirements, including the selection of local partners in Somalia, according to the source.
The European Commission provided more than $7 million in aid to the agency’s humanitarian efforts in Somalia last year, according to U.N. data. While some member states of the bloc have reportedly given significantly more money on a bilateral basis, it is unclear whether any of them will follow suit by temporarily suspending aid.
Balazs Ujvari, a European Commission spokesman who neither denied nor confirmed the aid suspension, according to Reuters, said the bloc had not received information from its U.N. partners on a financial impact on EU-funded projects.
“However, we will continue to monitor the situation and adhere to our zero tolerance approach to fraud, corruption or misconduct.” Ujvari said, as quoted by Reuters.
On Tuesday, the Devex newspaper published the contents of a July report commissioned by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in which internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Somalia claimed that some authorities forced them to pay up to half of the cash aid they received.
Local authorities, including police, implemented a system of taxation on recipients of U.S.-funded aid, with threats of arrest, physical violence, or denial of life-saving assistance to those who refuse to comply with it, according to the “highly confidential» UN report.
The WFP and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) halted food deliveries to Ethiopia’s war-torn Tigray region in May, saying supplies were being diverted.
The European Commission is providing 10 million euros ($10.69 million) to support Somalia and Ethiopia through the WFP, according to one of the senior EU officials interviewed by Reuters on Monday.
USAID spokesperson Jessica Jennings said the United States is working with partners to assess and understand the scale of the diversion in Mogadishu.
“(We) are already taking steps to protect beneficiaries and ensure that taxpayer dollars are used to benefit vulnerable people in Somalia, as intended.” Devex quoted Jennings as saying.