(Ecofin Agency) - Thirteen years after denouncing a similar case involving armed groups, the UN has once again revealed a case of misappropriation of aid funds by local authorities in Somalia.
The findings of this new investigation have been compiled in a report published on September 18 by Devex, a media platform focused on global development issues, which claims to have received a copy of the "highly confidential investigation commissioned by the United Nations" into the matter.
Evidence has been gathered since mid-2022 by the United Nations, and the survey commissioned in January this year by UN Secretary-General António Guterres collected data from 55 IDP camps, Devex indicates.
According to this paper, the UN found “evidence of cheating, including by scammers filing duplicate claims for assistance, or creating a list of fake or “ghost” beneficiaries."
“The displaced mostly women and children would be required to pay rent to local officials, some with no proof that they owned the land. A tax was also levied on cash vouchers provided by the U.N. In some cases, the gatekeepers would seize the recipients' vouchers and control how much food they would receive".
The report comes at a time of worsening humanitarian conditions in Somalia, which has been plunged for decades into a complex security crisis, compounded by political instability, the COVID-19 crisis, and the impact of the war in Ukraine. By 2023, more than 8.25 million people - almost half the Somali population - will need immediate life-saving humanitarian aid and protection, according to the UN.
“Since these reports came to us in late 2022, the UN has been strengthening [its] measures to protect IDPs [internally displaced persons] from post-delivery aid interference,” the spokesperson for the U.N. Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Eri Kaneko, said.
Commenting on the issue, an official of the USAID- another UN body, reassured: “We are working in close coordination with the government of Somalia, humanitarian leadership, and our humanitarian partners to develop a collective plan to ensure humanitarian aid goes to those who need it most, recognizing that system-wide changes are needed to better identify and prevent aid diversion.”