Al-Qaeda rebels stole £500k of UK aid in Somalia

Al Shabab fighters stole �480,000 of supplies in 'one of the world's most dangerous places'. Picture: AP
Al Shabab fighters stole �480,000 of supplies in 'one of the world's most dangerous places'. Picture: AP
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Nearly half a million pounds worth of UK taxpayer-funded humanitarian aid was stolen by al Qaida-linked militants rampaging through southern Somalia, official government documents have revealed.

The Islamist group al-Shabaab seized the supplies from warehouses that are believed to have been set ablaze after they were ransacked, the Department for International Development (DfID) said.

Details of the incidents were recorded in the DfID’s annual accounts, which stated that because there was no advanced warning of the raids its partner organisations in Somalia had been unable to save the supplies by moving them to a safer place.

The financial report said that £480,000 was written off “following the theft between November 2011 and February 2012, by al-Shabaab in southern Somalia, of DfID funded humanitarian materials and supplies from the offices and warehouses of partner organisations, to which DfID had provided funding to deliver projects and programmes”.

It continued: “DfID’s partners had no prior warning of the confiscations being carried out and therefore had no time to prevent the loss by relocating goods.”

The government department stressed that the goods had not been taken from its own stores, and that it was doing what it could to reduce the chance of further theft of aid in “the world’s most dangerous places”.

A spokesman for the department added: “DfID works in some of the most dangerous places in the world, including Somalia, because tackling the root causes of poverty and instability there ensures a safer world and a safer UK.

“Working in conflict-affected and fragile states carries inherent risk. DfID does all it can to mitigate against this but, on occasion, losses will occur. We work with our partners to design programmes that protect our investment from misuse or theft,”

Earlier this week it was reported that six of the eight countries receiving the highest amounts of British aid were looking into establishing space programmes.

A UK Independence Party Euro MP was also rebuked for complaining about the provision of taxpayer-funded aid to “bongo bongo land”. Godfrey Bloom, Ukip MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, was recorded questioning the UK’s overseas aid payments, claiming the recipients spend the money on luxuries.

He told a meeting of supporters in the Midlands that those who receive aid spend the money on “Ray-Ban sunglasses, apartments in Paris, Ferraris and all the rest of it”.