Niger says international aid for flood victims stolen

NIAMEY Sat Sep 8, 2012 11:29am EDT

NIAMEY (Reuters) - Niger said on Saturday that international food aid intended for victims of flooding in the West African state was being stolen by those meant to distribute it.

Niger, one of the world's poorest and least developed countries, had sought 6,300 metric tons (6,944 tons) of emergency food aid from donor nations after heavy rains that have killed 68 people since August and left half a million others homeless.

"We have information that aid is being diverted to other places, that is, not to the victims of the flooding," Abdou Labo, minister of the interior and public security, said at a press conference.

He said those responsible would be prosecuted, but did not say how much of the aid, organized by the United Nations, had been stolen.

Local activists and human rights advocates have been complaining since mid-August that the emergency flood aid was being mismanaged, with supplies being given to friends and family of the people meant to be delivering them.

Niger, which relies heavily on international aid, is among several countries in Africa's arid Sahel region facing food shortages after a poor harvest last season.

(Reporting by Abdoulaye Massalatchi; Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Sophie Hares)