Home » News »

In Somalia, UN Denies Mercenary Use, Admits Areas Unserved, WFP and USAID Cancel Q&A

In Somalia, UN Denies Mercenary Use, Admits Areas Unserved, WFP and USAID Cancel Q&A

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 23 — In the wake in Somalia of the UN World Food Program’s self-investigation of the relation of its aid distribution system and the Al Shabaab rebels, Inner City Press on September 23 asked the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Somalia Mark Bowden if, as Somali sources say, WFP has hired military contractors, with USAID money. Video here, from Minute 10:28.

  These are allegations by Somali sources which Inner City Press sought to ask the most senior officials of USAID and WFP about at what was advertised as a press availability on September 22, in the Millennium Hotel across from the UN. When Inner City Press arrives, early, for the Q&A session, WFP executive director Josette Sheeran was visible in a meeting with USAID signs on the wall.

  After a staff member confirmed it was Inner City Press which came to ask questions, the Q&A session was canceled, as was a second USAID session set for September 24. So the question was asked of Bowden as UN humanitarian coordinator.

  Bowden replied as to WFP, “I’m sure they haven’t employed military contracts.” He said that he is the UN system’s Department of Safety & Security (DSS) designated security officer for the country. He then acknowledged that there are parts of Somalia where DSS cannot operate, where the UN relies on the security of “the agencies concerned” — that is, WFP. Video here, from Minute 15:50

   There is a serious drought in Somalia, and Inner City Press asked Bowden to confirm that there are areas where the UN has no humanitarian access. Bowden replied that yes there are, for example in Johar, where UNICEF vaccines were looted. He said that usually the “local community” makes good or provides assurances, but that hasn’t happened in Johar.

  Inner City Press asked about the Shabaab’s statements against DSS, the UN Development Program and Ould Abdullah’s UNPOS, but not against WFP and UNICEF. Bowden called these statements “propagandist in nature” since, he said, UNPOS and UNDP weren’t then working in the areas Shabaab referred to. He called it unfortunate, as it appears to have sidelined DSS. Could this explain Somali’s increasing allegation that the UN is using military contractors?

While Bowden scoffed that it would be nearly impossible for the UN to use military contractors, Inner City Press when it inquired into the UN’s operations in Basra in Iraq was told:

Subj: your question on security in Basra
From: unspokesperson-donotreply [at] un.org
To: matthew.lee [at] innercitypress.com
Sent: 9/2/2009 4:27:08 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time

In Basra, where the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq has a small presence, UNAMI has occasionally used in the past private security guards (who were also providing security to the UK diplomats) to escort UN staff to meetings with the local Iraqi officials at the civilian side of the airport. That was paid through a support agreement with the UK, which was responsible for security in Basra at the time.

  So, contrary to what Mr. Bowden said, it is not so difficult for the UN to use / benefit from military contractors. But who might be performing this role in Somalia?

Footnote: While USAID canceled both of its press availabilities, and WFP canceled on September 22, it is hoped that further information can be obtained outside of New York on September 25, and beyond. Regarding USAID there are other questions regarding, for example, Afghanistan and Bolivia. Watch this site.

Source: http://www.innercitypress.com/wfp3somalia092309.html


Faafin: SomaliTalk.com // Halkudheg: ,

. Afeef: Aragtida maqaallada iyo faallooyinka waa kuwo u gaar ah qorayaasha ku saxiixan. E-mail Link Xiriiriye weeyey

comment closed after 30 days / Jawaabaha waa la xiray ama waa la joojiyay wixii ka badan 30 cisho.