ROME – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today said it would welcome an independent investigation into its food assistance operations in Somalia. At the same time, the agency said it would not engage in any new work with three transport contractors named in a report from the United Nations Monitoring Group on Somalia, which alleged they were involved in arms-trading.
“The integrity of our organization is paramount and we will be reviewing and investigating each and every issue raised by this report,” said WFP Executive Director, Josette Sheeran, “WFP stands ready to offer full cooperation with any independent inquiry into its work in Somalia.”
Sheeran added that WFP lives every day with the dangerous realities of our Somalia operation and would do everything it could to reach the hungry in Somalia.
In January, WFP also suspended operations across southern Somalia in response to intimidation of its staff and the imposition of a number of unreasonable demands by armed groups that contravened WFP’s rules and regulations for delivering food for the hungry.
The report by the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia, due to be presented to the UN Security Council next week, alleges that contractors have diverted WFP food assistance away from the hungry.
Sheeran noted that vulnerabilities are always present in conflict areas, and many of the issues raised have already been addressed, while other points identified by the UN Monitoring Group conflicted with operational facts and information. WFP is requesting the opportunity to correct factual issues and inform the group on actions WFP has already taken.
For further information:
Jennifer Parmelee, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1-202-6530010 ext. 1149, Mob. +1-202-4223383
Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-646-5566909, Mob. +1-646-8241112
Ralf Suedhoff, WFP/Berlin, Tel. +49 30-2061490, Cell. +49 160 9491 2547
Tamara Kummer, WFP/Paris, Tel. +33 (0) 1 45 68 49 25, Cell. +33 6751 79660
Erika Joergensen, WFP/Copenhagen, Tel: 0045 35 467130; Mob +45 2884 8266