- Corruption of the World Food Programme in Yemen…
- Looted funds and rotten food aid.
- An investigative report on the fate of billions of dollars allocated for relief aid in Yemen
- World Food Program “saves” Yemenis through food aid unfit for human consumption
- The WFP deprived 31 families in Abes of their food rations for three months
- Experts: The additional cost of aid exceeds the actual value of food baskets by up to 500%
- Documents: Exploitation of food aid in the smuggling of products without paying taxes and customs of some commercial agencies
- 30 billion riyals for eight employees affiliated with the WFP in less than a year
Exclusive-Althawrah local newspaper- Inquiry / Abdulqader Othman
Translated from Arabic to English by/ Issac Ali
Since the war broke out, Yemenis have been the victims of the heaviest consequences of the war and became easy targets traded by nations.
Organizations that expressed a pleasant angelic face quickly turned from a savior carrying the hopes of the desperate to a ghost that undermines the dreams of the hungry and harms those who have been plagued with the lack of money. These organizations hid a face full of black holes that devoured their funds and begged for more!”
Suad Malik, an eleven-year-old girl, from Abes district in the northwestern province of Hajjah, suffered severe watery diarrhea at the end of 2018. An examination conducted at the Abes Health Unit revealed that she was suffering from contaminated food. It was a “biscuit from a local relief organization distributing aid from the UN World Food Programme, which has been working in Yemen since 2015.”
The representatives of the organizations working with the WFP in the district of Abes distributed 20 cartons of biscuits out of the 120 seized by the Ministry of Industry and Trade after filed complaints regarding expired quantities of biscuits, and it was then confirmed by a certain committee of the Industry Bureau that these amounts are spoiled and contained worms.
Suad is not the only one!
Suad is one of the thousands of students who suffered from food poisoning by eating biscuits provided by the school feeding project in the region and many Yemeni governorates. In the schools within the district al-Shamaitin, south of Taiz, local sources told the «Althawrah» that a number of students in seven schools in the district were poisoned After eating aid food, from the pieces of biscuits stuffed with dates distributed by the World Food Program in March this year to students within the school feeding project », while the Office of Education in the district stated that« the inspection of those meals revealed that many of them are contaminated, some even contained worms inside them, so the remaining quantities in the stores in the district have been seized».
The expired food distributed by the World Food Programme (WFP) through its internal partners is not just restricted on the biscuits distributed through the “school feeding”, but most of the relief items it distributes are contaminated with weevils and insects or exposed to constant sunlight or were badly manufactured from the country it was produced or there expiration date is approaching; thus, after the long ride to Yemen and the transportation between the provinces, they arrived after their expiration date. Such aid can be damaged and inappropriate for human consumption.
Expired shipment, not suitable for human consumption
Six months after the poisoning of the child Suad, who is studying in the fifth grade in an elementary school, the Consumer Protection Association announced that an aid shipment containing 163 thousand bags of flour managed by the World Food Program arrived at the port of Hodeidah and was rejected on May 18 by the Yemeni Standards Organization because it was “damaged and not-usable for human consumption”
The “Althawrah” also got more information on another shipment that was prevented from being imported into the country by the same organization, stating: “The program imported 15 thousand empty bags of flour during April and was rejected by the Standards Authority because the date of production, expiration and the country of origin were written in the empty bags in advance ».
The tragedy does not end here, “24 thousand and 570 bags of expired flour found in the warehouses of the World Food Program, which were then seized during the consumer campaign carried out by the Ministry of Industry and government agencies in Sana’a, and other provinces, from the period of 16 Shaban (April 21, 2019) until 16 Ramadan (May 21, 2019). Additionally, 90 tons of flour was confiscated by the Specifications Commission»
According to the expression of the Assembly, which confirmed that« these expired quantities found were usable for one month only and are being wasted by the aid programs and violating the standard specifications ». The Ministry of Industry called Donors to Re-evaluate the role of the World Food Program and work on a new mechanism of cash assistance through banks and mail gradually to the segment of the beneficiaries under the aid programs, and replace the importation operation of buying flour, oil and beans products though Yemeni producers and manufacturers to stabilize the national currency and create new jobs to reduce unemployment and give access to healthy food products that are fit for human consumption in a country witnessing tragic circumstances.
In May 2017, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) admitted a corrupt shipment of aid that arrived at Aden province, estimated at 32,000 tons of wheat. According to a World Food Program statement, a ship carrying 32,000 tons of wheat grain, that could’ve benefited about 2.5 million Yemeni people for a Month, arrived in Aden port on April 2017 as part of emergency food aid, but part of the cargo was damaged due to its exposure to seawater.
The “Althawrah” newspaper obtained documents of the investigation records carried out by the prosecutor in Abes Ali Al-Shammari in the center of the district, also the Bani Hassan and the Shafer area, which revealed the presence of large quantities of damaged food in the WFP warehouses.
In Abes warehouses, in the presence of the representative of the organization Mohamed Al-Nami, the Director of the Office of Industry and Commerce Yahya Ahmad and the representative of the local council Ali Sawan, recorded the existence of 2024 contaminated bags of wheat, weighing 50 kg each, having the production date recorded in May 2018. ” 286 bags of lentil capacity of 50 kg valid and undamaged and must be isolated from the damaged wheat in addition to six tons of oil, or 370 oil cans, valid until next August located in one single store”, stressing that these quantities should be distributed in safe stores in the nearest opportunity before they get infected in their present location.”
In the Tihama and Al-Ameri stores belonging to the World Food Organization, another judicial investigation revealed that “there were about 500 bags of wheat out of 1384 were rotten, 460 of which were already distributed, leaving 140 in the open, exposed to sun, humidity and rain. Some insects were also found, and it was specified they’re unfit for human use.
“There are large quantities still stored in the warehouse and are spoiled, in addition to quantities of lentils are subject to expiring soon, and the amount stored in the storehouse amount to be 27429 bags of damaged wheat and about 1095 bags from (Belma)», said the owner of Tihama Mills – Majid al-Sharafi – who was present during the investigation. A report by the National Authority for Management and Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and disaster was then given to the Danish Council (the partner of the program) on May 6 to replace them with eatable materials and distribute them quickly because the situation of some families are tough and can’t be delayed.
Rotten Beans and Pulses
The “AlThawra” also obtained exclusive documents of the results of tests conducted by the Office of Industry and Commerce in the district of Sanhan. The office revealed that about 707 bags, weighing 30 kg each, of Turkish beans were rotten and unfit for human consumption. The World Food organization distributed them to nine schools in the Sana’a governorate The Ministry of Industry and Commerce within the Sanhan and Bani Bahloul districts confirmed that the seized quantities in the two district amounted to 36 tons and 285 kilograms.
Addressing the World Food Programme
Faisal Modhesh, the undersecretary of the coordination sector in the National Authority, said to the “Althawrah” that the organization “addressed the humanitarian organization more than once, whether from the head office or its branches in the governorates. The meeting was also held several times with the WFP regarding rotten foods and the huge quantities of those foods that were unfit for human consumption. Extensive discussions were held with the WFP which attributed the reason for the storage, transport and obstruction facing them in Yemeni ports by the Saudi-led aggression,” adding that «these spoiled foods impacted thousands of beneficiary families that were allocated to them and deprived of monthly aid in the Hajjah, Amran and the capital Sana’a and in most of the governorates of Yemen in general ».
It may be appropriate to go back to the causes of the deterioration of the World Food Program assistance in Yemen. Undersecretary of the Ministry of Industry and Trade for the Internal Trade Sector, Abdullah Abdul-Wali Numan, told the “Althawrah” that the UN elected internal representatives are inappropriate, and we do not know the reasons behind storing aid till it gets expired or contaminated instead of giving the poor people them,” wondering: who is benefiting from such actions, we need to know the reasons behind this.”
Threats to Stop Aid
The World Food Programme has threatened to stop the distribution of relief aid to beneficiaries on the pretext of obstruction of the leadership in Sanaa, the threat that reflects the size of corruption within the organization, which turned into a state of blackmail, putting arbitrary conditions in front of the delivery of aid in cash to beneficiaries.
Sources reported that the WFP conditioned a data that include the person’s picture and fingerprint, a request that the National Higher Committee for Disaster Response agreed and added that the data should be handed to a local side such as a postal or local bank, but the World Food Programme rejected the idea on the grounds that it wanted to approve the data. The National Commission has put forward that the citizens’ statements and their specificities are a sovereign right and stipulated that they are handed over to an agreed party and considered the WFP threats blackmail the Yemeni people.
“The new registration process has not yet taken place and our different points of view are about the biometric system “fingerprint and image” that the WFP wants to apply upon all beneficiaries. “The Programme rejected this because« taking the fingerprint and image of citizens is a sovereign right and the organs of the state only have the right to implement it, the program is not entitled to take pictures and fingerprints of beneficiaries and share with Donors, including the forces of aggression,” he stressed.
The WFP fabrications and the corrupt aid scandal in the Salo, Taiz governorate
While the WFP said that relief aid in Yemen is being robbed in the Salo district in Taiz province, southwestern Yemen, a document obtained by the “Althawrah” proves that the rotten quantities in the Salo district were not stolen but delayed because some school principals refused to return these spoiled quantities until alternative quantities are delivered first. Also, another reason for the delay was the document released by the organization the next day asking for the allowance of the entering of their trucks carrying aid into the district.
Addressing Mark Lowcock ( the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator)
a memorandum submitted to the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs by Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Hamed, said the “WFP’s expired food items included wheat flour, soy, millet, feed, legumes, food supplements, and foodstuffs. Mr. Hamed, the director of the Office of the President of the Republic, said in the memo that” such violations are a blatant example of a set of practices that may affect the nature of the relationship between the official authorities and the humanitarian organizations, and it will be reflected negatively on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in all governorates of the Republic of Yemen ».
Over the past four months, WFP has deprived more than 31,320 families in Abes from their food rations of February, April and May, while its stores in these areas are rife with aid that is subsequently expired/ rotten because of its never-ending storage of them and not distributing them to citizens.
It was not only the deprivation of citizens in need at this point but also thousands of recent additions to the families of poverty and hardship, which the National Authority gave records off to the WFP and collected by its local partners. However, nothing was given to them; in a matter of fact, the humanitarian organization did not put them on the lists of beneficiaries without reasons.
In the area of Bani Hassan located in Abes district«The Takaful Association, a partner of the World Food Programme, deprived entire villages of aid by not registering their names on the list of beneficiaries, despite the existence of enormous amounts of poor families. The association, whose task is to verify the registration of the most in need of aid, visited only a few villages in the district and did not visit all the villages. It even distributed aid without consulting the National Authority so that an appropriate mechanism can be organized for disbursement and therefore it was ordered to halt its work in the region, according to a document sent by the national authority that was sent to Sana’a for taking actions against Takaful Association for not following the law»
These unfair practices against thousands of poor families are one of the negative practices of the WFP partners, which have intensified in recent months despite addressing the organization and the United Nations of these deliberate violations and their negative consequences on the Yemeni society in light of the difficult humanitarian situation the country is experiencing as a result of an aggressive war that was launched and led by Saudi Arabia along with other countries in the region such as the UAE, the Zionist entity and foreign partners from the European countries and the US on Yemen for more than four years. In addition, the delay by the WFP affiliated associations in sending the beneficiary name records within the different district in the country,
despite all the directives issued by the Authority in Sana’a, which asks for cooperation with the WFP partners in order facilitate their tasks and ensure their implementation in accordance with the agreed mechanism that respects the privacy of beneficiaries.
WFP’s partners register and prepare beneficiary lists and distribute, exchange, import, transport and store aid without any intervention by the authorities, except in a supervisory manner, contrary to the claims of the director of the World Food Programme, which held Sana’a responsible for obstructing the access of aid to citizens. The World Food Office in Jordan even has direct contacts with beneficiaries of food aid provided; under the pretext of ensuring that the arrival of aid as a form of internal control. In addition, international donors to the food program choose a third party to be selected and imposed directly by donors, including the Saudis and the Americans (Countries that are leading the aggression on Yemen).
The Corruption by WFP Employees
The World Food Program (WFP) is aware of this corruption, which also reduces the number of food rations provided to beneficiary families to increase the number of households and the number of individuals targeted, rather than increasing the amount of such assistance on the one hand. On the other hand, not all these quantities reach the targeted areas and distribution points according to the quantities specified in the monthly plans. There are many documented cases, in addition to the substantial corruption related to the actual cost of the food basket, as well as the cost chain of additional assistance Which exceeds the actual value of food baskets by as much as 500%, according to local experts. For example, there are documented data, including one project, costing more than half a million dollars to distribute only 10,000 food baskets in one area in Hajjah governorate.
At the end of last year, one state donated 750,000 euros, then the WFP carried out a relief project of 50,000 euros only, leaving an amount of 700,000 euros as part of the project’s “operational expenses”.
Three billion dollars … Where is the money?
In April, a group of activists launched an online campaign to demand the disclosure of the fate of relief aid received by the United Nations billions of dollars from donors to bring them as a means to alleviate the humanitarian situation in Yemen and promote transparency in the dealings between external organizations and internal partners. The campaign ended with extortionist statements by the director of the WFP.
The Yemeni activists published a list of 62 international and local organizations that received an exaggerated amount of international support in the name of relief for Yemenis in need, especially United Nations organizations. They called on the organizations to reveal the fate of these financial aid swallowed up by what they called the “black hole” of these organizations. Media sources said that only 20 percent of the financial aid is delivered to the poor, explaining that the international and local organizations have received since the beginning of the war about 23 billion dollars to fund relief aid to Yemen, including nearly half a billion dollars during the first quarter of this year, according to was officially announced; however, it is still unclear where all of these amounts are spent on.
“Tens of thousands of Yemenis die of malnutrition, including 80 thousand children under the age of five, according to the World Health Organization of the United Nations.
“An official at the World Food Programme (WFP) office in Yemen admitted that during the years of the war in Yemen, WFP had received more than $ 3 billion in humanitarian relief work in Yemen, and that WFP disbursed 6.5 per cent of it on the Organization’s operational and administrative expenses, While the operating expenses of some international organizations exceeded 10 percent. Local organizations, which receive their funding from international organizations as intermediaries for the implementation of distributions on the ground, manage more than 20 percent for administrative and operational expenses. despite the corruption and fraud, according to the newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi from London.
In the context of the financial corruption of relief organizations, including the World Food organization, a document of the United Nations – obtained by the «Althawrah» – eight employees in one of its organizations operating in Yemen received about 50 million dollars (30 billion Yemeni riyals) salary for 11 months only, The UN is also paying tons of money to secure housing for its employees, in addition to other allowances, which are a risk premium, “especially as Yemen is a danger zone for them, as well as the cost of delivering aid to areas of conflict, which the United Nations said was too expensive. Internet costs for WFP during one year is “a million and two hundred thousand US dollars (660 million Yemeni riyals), while thousands of families are starving.
Suad is still waiting for her family’s share of food aid for the month of May, despite three months of absence from them and millions of needy people in different governorates, while the WFP dispels the amounts of donors in the wages of housing and cars, and tickets without paying any attention to such cases classified by the United Nations (UN) as “the worst contemporary humanitarian crisis in the world”.
While the aggression has increased the number of the poor, the homeless and the hungry, they also have produced tycoons and wealthy people who collect money day after day, so that the humanitarian organizations and the state of corruption and manipulations have become a common feature throughout Yemen and the various Yemeni governorates.