WFP says store in Abidjan looted, stocks cleaned out
The World Food Programme said Wednesday that its food stocks in Abidjan had been completely stolen by an armed group, leading to a halt in distributions in Ivory Coast's economic capital.
"Three thousand tonnes of food that we had in our store in Abidjan had simply disappeared, they were looted," Alain Cordeil, who heads the agency's operations in the west African country said.
"An armed group -- we never knew who exactly -- managed to take the store, threw out the young people who were protecting it and finally looted it completely and apparently set it on fire," he said.
The WFP had had no food at its disposal in Abidjan for the past five days, he added.
"We need to react quickly because we know that there are many people to help in Abidjan," Cordeil said, pointing out that the WFP estimates that about 70,000 people in the city needed emergency aid.
The UN food agency said it would need $26 million to feed 225,000 people over six months.
However, it has received only $12 million to date, said Cordeil, who warned that a lack of financing would further slow aid.
"In Abidjan, prices have multiplied by four times or maybe even by five. We are expecting that it will continue to increase for basic products," he said.
"You can imagine why pillaging is going on in Abidjan. It's simply because people are hungry. They will rob wherever there is a supermarket," he added.
Such pillaging begins often with heavily armed groups, which "help themselves, then leaves the stores open."
Other then come to benefit, said the WFP official, warning against this "vicious cycle of insecurity" brought on by hunger.
© 2011 AFP