The UN’s World Food Program insisted Tuesday it would not be reducing emergency aid shipments to Somalia despite allegations of fraud, The Associated Press reported.
The statements were made after an investigation by AP found that sacks of grain, peanut butter snacks and other food staples meant for starving Somalis are being stolen and sold in Somali markets.
One Somalia official estimated that up to half of the recent food shipments may have been stolen.
The WFP, however, said Tuesday that though such complaints are frequent, it does not believe there have been big losses.
The program added it is bringing 5,000 tons a month of food into the Somali capital of Mogadishu to help the famine-hit nation. WFP officials added that it seems “implausible” that a large amount of food is being diverted because it would pose a huge logistical challenge.
Meanwhile, the United Nations said the mortality rate among young children at a camp for Somali refugees in Ethiopia has reached alarming levels, with an average of ten children under five dying every day since the Kobe camp in southeast Ethiopia opened in June. The camp holds 25,000 refugees.