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Cablegate: Somalia - World Food Program Requests Private Security For

DE RUEHNR #2429/01 2980454
P 240454Z OCT 08





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: SOMALIA - World Food Program Requests Private Security for
Food Aid

REF: Nairobi 2380

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. After 1,250 metric tons of food were stolen on
September 25, the World Food Program (WFP) Somalia Office has
requested that the USG ask the Transitional Federal Government (TFG)
to rescind its ban on transporters providing their own armed
security personnel. USAID Food for Peace Somalia office supports
the WFP's request. The WFP contracts several Somali transportation
companies to deliver food throughout Somalia. These shippers say
they can no longer guarantee safe passage of food aid. Targeted
violence, excessive bribes, and increased insecurity are taking
their toll on food aid transporters. While they expect opposition
from some TFG leaders, WFP and the transporters maintain that
reconstituting their private security forces is the only way to
ensure delivery of life-saving resources to 3.5 million vulnerable
Somalis. End Summary.

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Transporters Key to Aid Delivery

2. (SBU) The September 25 looting of 1,250 metric tons of food aid
on a convoy of 35 trucks was by far the worst looting incident to
date. The food was stolen in North Mogadishu while Deeqa
Construction Company, owned by AmCit Abdulkadir Nur, were
transporting it from Mogadishu port to the Bakol Region. Khadija
Ali (also an AmCit, and the wife of Abdulkadir Nur) told us that
she's never witnessed an incident of this magnitude. In addition to
Ali, we recently met separately with Mohamed Mohamud Daylaff,
Managing Director of Al-Towfiq Import and Export Company, and
Abudulkadir Omar, Managing Director of Swift Traders East Africa,
Ltd. Together these companies deliver the bulk of the WFP's
USG-funded humanitarian assistance.

3. (SBU) The companies operate in extremely insecure environments.
This year five drivers transporting WFP goods have been killed.
Recently their convoys have been attacked and hundreds of tons of
food have been looted. Traditionally, WFP (and CARE who utilize the
same transporters) have ensured the food by requiring transporters
to post a bond ranging from 30 to 100 percent of the food's value.
Consequently, in the event of theft, the transporters usually
re-purchase the looted food or replace it, far cheaper options than
forfeiting the bond. However, as the food tonnages have
significantly increased this year, the transporters do not have
sufficient cash to post the bonds, or buy back looted food.

4. (SBU) The recent 1,250 MT theft highlights the limits of the
bond system. Nur indicated that if WFP collects the stolen food's
$800,000 bond, the company will go bankrupt. WFP fears waiving the
bond will lead to careless handling of food aid. The WFP and Deeqa
are negotiating payment by installments while Deeqa works to replace
some of the food through the local community.

WFP Advocates Armed Security

5. (SBU) Representatives from these and other major transportation
contractors requested the WFP seek TFG permission to re-establish
private armed security to protect their goods. Otherwise, the
transporters indicate that they cannot be held liable for any
further looting. The WFP Somalia office has requested USG
assistance in intervening on behalf of Somali transportation
companies to obtain TFG (and Ethiopian National Defense Force)
permission to stand up private armed security escort for their food
deliveries. WFP has also asked other diplomatic missions including
France, Japan, Sweden, and Netherlands to also advocate on their

6. (SBU) Although the TFG and the opposition Alliance for the
Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) have discussed the establishment of
safe humanitarian corridors, there has been no progress on the
ground. WFP told us that returning to the previous system of
transporter-provided armed security is the only way to address the
risk of looting and protect their truck drivers. A WFP logistics
officer confirmed that the system can be organized quickly using the
transporters' networks that still exist.

7. (SBU) In a recent meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed
Abdisalam Adan (reftel), he told us that he endorsed the
establishment of uniformed, regulated, armed private security for

NAIROBI 00002429 002 OF 003

humanitarian aid deliveries since the TFG was unable to provide this
security. Abdisalam told us that private security firms could be
based on the successful model of the Bakara market private security
force established earlier this year. He also noted that private
security companies would provide much needed job opportunities for
young people who might otherwise be recruited by militias or worse,
al-Shabaab. While Abdisalam endorsed the idea, he conceded that not
all TFG leaders would look favorably at this initiative.

Sophisticated Security Network

8. (SBU) WFP explained that the transporters would build upon their
experience in mounting security arrangements prior to 2006. Until
the defeat of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) and the ENDF presence
in Somalia, WFP transporters used to protect convoys of food aid
with their own security personnel. The system was a sophisticated
network of clan-based personnel from each of the locations the
convoy would pass. Through this system, the convoy had sufficient
security to deter an attack or looting and sufficient clan
representation to negotiate access, without resorting to fighting.
At present, each transporter must negotiate separate arrangements
with local communities, district commissioners, and other entities
that control the roads they travel, each exacting different, but
predictable payments for security.

9. (SBU) Ali provided us with a concept paper from her NGO SAACID
that describes a grassroots district-based approach to
community-level policing and civil justice that we sent by email to
the Department. When we asked the transportation companies for
details on their vision for how the private security would operate,
they asked for time to consult with one another to present a
coordinated approach. Transporters conceded that an efficient
private security force could quickly surpass the TFG's own security
forces, but said that they would not directly challenge the
government's forces. Each of the transporters (who are all Hawiye)
conceded that they believed President Yusuf would not allow them to
be armed, fearing for his own political survival.

Who Is Looting?

10. (SBU) Ali told us she blames the ICU for the September theft.
Despite appealing to ARS Chairman Sheikh Sharif and Sheikh Dahir
Aweys, neither was able to stop the theft while it was happening.
Ali said that her husband spoke directly to al-Shabaab leader
Mukhtar Robow who denied responsibility and also squarely blamed ICU
militias. Nonetheless, according to transporters, all sides of the
armed conflict have stolen food: TFG militias, clan-based militias
associated with the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), and al-Shabaab.
However, each group had its own signature -- the TFG sets up
roadblocks to attack, the ICU loots and destroys property
indiscriminately, and al-Shabaab uses kidnapping as its preferred
tactic to extract payments, Daylaff said.

Companies Profitable and Diversified

11. (SBU) The transportation companies are owned by influential
business leaders who increasingly reside elsewhere in the region for
security's sake. They travel back to Somalia only when absolutely
necessary. Thus far, they have been able to effectively manage risk
and turn profits in one of the most difficult operating environments
in the world. In addition to guaranteed contracts by international
NGOs, they also provide private land and sea transportation of
goods, construction, and many have associated NGOs. For example,
partially funded by the USG through WFP, Khadija Ali's NGO SAACID is
implementing the highly successful wet feeding program that is
delivering an average of 80,000 hot meals per day through 16 feeding
centers in Mogadishu. Still providing diverse services, the
business leaders told us that the current security environment is
the worst that Somalia has ever seen and that the costs of business
have almost become insurmountable.

Mogadishu Mayor Still Collecting Taxes

NAIROBI 00002429 003 OF 003

12. (SBU) Although Mohamed Dheere was removed from his position as
Mogadishu Mayor and Benadir governor in August, he still collects
excessive "taxes" to exit the port -- as much as $30,000 per food
shipment -- money that never reaches the Treasury, according to
Daylaff. Daylaff told us the acting Benadir governor, in office
pending overdue regional elections, is Dheere's cousin and continues
to operate Dheere's "customs" regime. At each of the checkpoints
Daylaff's trucks pass, they are required to pay additional bribes
out-of-pocket, since WFP pays a set price for each delivery.
However, we understand the rate structures account for these costs
and transporters are not losing money on "standard" deliveries.


13. The risk-averse and steadfastly neutral WFP is endorsing armed
security escorts as the only option to deliver much needed emergency
humanitarian aid. Post agrees and is encouraging representatives
within the TFG to consider armed protection for humanitarian
convoys. We are also encouraging the transporters to develop a
proposal that will be acceptable to all parties. Embassy believes
it would be useful to approach the Government of Ethiopia on this
subject as well. Meanwhile, the shippers detail a grim picture of
the Somali transport sector. Without TFG security, food aid
deliveries may soon be too risky and expensive to undertake, they
say. Although they have not yet proposed details for how they would
re-establish a private security force, it would likely be
accomplished with the same creativity, efficiency, and
entrepreneurial approach that drive their current operations. While
the transporters indicated they would hire across clan lines, this
security force would likely be regarded as a threat by President
Yusuf and others within the TFG.


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