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A Somali Businessman linked to Islamist rebels who likely received a ransom paid for kidnapped French aid workers was a contractor for the World Food Program and UNICEF, a U.N. report said.


untitledThe confidential report by the U.N. Somalia Monitoring Group, seen by Reuters on Thursday, said the man, Adbdullah Ali Luway, and his links with Islamist al Shabaab militants
 
Was a case study in how U.N. agencies have unwittingly allowed aid for needy Somalis to enrich rebels and criminals.three French workers with humanitarian group
 
Action Against Hunger were seized by gunmen in July 2009 and held for several months. In October, a ransom of $1.36 million was paid into an account belonging
 
To Luway at a money transfer firm in Baidoa, Somalia, the report said. A prominent businessman, Luway serves as a contractor for WFP and UNICEF in the Baidoa area,”
 
It said, adding that he rents vehicles to both agencies and his water firm Gargarwadag often works for UNICEF.He also receives $3,000 a month in rent from UNICEF, the United Nations children’s fund, for use of a building that formerly housed the parliament of Somalia,

 
a virtually lawless country that has lacked an effective government since 1991 In addition to his work with the United Nations, Luway had been the “local financier”
of the al Shabaab authority in Baidoa since
 
The Islamist group took control of the area in January 2009. He is a “close associate” of Sheikh Muktar Robow Abuu Mansuur, a senior al Shabaab official, the report said.the United States lists Robow as a terrorist. FOOD AID DIVERTED Al Shabaab,
 
which controls much of southern and central Somalia, has pledged loyalty to al Qaeda and wants to impose its own harsh version of sharia law throughout the country.Luway, the report says, is also believed to have been involved in the looting of the U.N. compound in Baidoa in July 2009, when U.N. vehicles were stolen and taken to Mogadishu.
 
Luway has successfully exploited his social and political connections into an intermediary role between al Shabaab leadership in Baidoa and the United Nations — a situation that has evoked formal protest from clan elders,” it said.
 
The report, which was submitted to the U.N. Security Council’s Somalia sanctions committee and will be discussed by the council next week, says that as much as half the food aid sent to Somalia is diverted to a network of corrupt contractors, radical Islamist militants and local U.N. staff.
 
The report, which has not been published, outlines such serious problems that it recommends U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon open an independent investigation into the WFP’s operations in Somalia. It also urged the United Nations to create a database of people linked to the kidnapping of aid workers.
 
The report also details violations of the U.N. arms embargo against Somalia, saying many of the rebels’ weapons come not only from Yemen, but also from Somalia’s weak U.N.-backed transitional government, which al Shabaab hopes to overthrow.
 
WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said in a statement that her agency “stands ready to offer full cooperation with any independent inquiry into its work in Somalia.”
The WFP suspended its work in much of southern
 
Somalia in January because of threats against its staff and because al Shabaab was demanding payments for security.A WFP spokeswoman in New York, Bettina Luescher, complained of numerous inaccuracies in the report, which she said the WFP was not consulted on.
 
For example, the report describes what it says was a staged looting in Mogadishu that led to the theft of 1,229 metric tons of food aid in September 2008. This was a genuine looting incident and all of the looted food was replaced by the contractor,” Luescher said.
 
UNICEF spokesman Christopher de Bono said his agency had neither received the report nor had it been consulted about it. “With no information, we are not able to determine the facts or respond at this time,” he said.
 
(Editing by Anthony Boadle and Doina Chiacu)

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