WFP condemns looting of food warehouses during unrest in Guinea

Published on 13 February 2007

WFP has condemned the looting of three food warehouses in Guinea over the weekend – resulting in the loss of nearly 450 metric tons of food aid destined for school children and the poorest communities.

WFP has condemned the looting of three food warehouses in Guinea over the weekend – resulting in the loss of nearly 450 metric tons of food aid destined for school children and the poorest communities.

This food was for the poorest of the poor in Guinea – it has been mindlessly plundered by people who have no respect for the property of others

WFP Guinea Country Director, Philippe Guyon LeBuffy

WFP estimates the value of the losses at US$ 350,000.

During violent disturbances in the eastern city of Kankan on Sunday, a WFP warehouse was stripped bare, and a total of 350 tons of rice, yellow split peas and cooking oil was stolen by marauding local inhabitants.

Other items such as cooking pots, plates and spoons were also looted.

Attacked by mob

In addition, WFP’s office in Kankan was attacked by a mob throwing stones, forcing the evacuation of the only international staff across the border into Mali.

Further disturbances, again involving local inhabitants, near the town of Labé in central Guinea over the weekend caused the loss of a further 97 metric tons of food commodities from two warehouses belonging to WFP’s government partners – in Pita (Saturday) and Dalaba (Sunday).

The stolen food was meant for children enrolled in WFP’s school feeding programme. Each year, over 200,000 children in Guinea receive school meals on a regular basis.

Mindlessly plundered

The looted food was also intended for other non-emergency activities which include food-for-work projects, nutrition programmes for young children and their mothers and support to people suffering from HIV/AIDS.

“This food was for the poorest of the poor in Guinea – it has been mindlessly plundered by people who have no respect for the property of others,” said WFP Guinea Country Director, Philippe Guyon LeBuffy.

“At this point, it’s hard to know when we will next be able to provide schools and other institutions with the food aid they rely on for their programmes. We understand there is widespread frustration and anger in the country, but actions such as these will only make the lives of the poorest even worse,” Guyon LeBuffy added.

Sweeping violence

The looting means there are now no remaining food stocks in Kankan. Some 500 metric tons for operations around Labé are still intact as are food aid stocks for WFP's refugee operation in the Forest Region of Guinea.

The violence which is sweeping through Guinea forced WFP last weekend to suspend temporarily all its operations, although February distributions to the most needy Liberian and Ivorian refugees have been completed.

WFP is monitoring the situation closely, including the possibility that new food needs may arise should the situation deteriorate further, as many people are suffering an acute loss of income resulting from the strike action and civil unrest.