USAID Pauses Food Aid To Ethiopia’s Tigray Amid Claims Aid Is Being Diverted
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on Wednesday announced that it has decided to cease food aid to Ethiopia’s war-torn Tigray region after it came to light that the shipments were diverted to local markets, reported France 24.
“We have made the difficult decision to pause all USAID-supported food assistance in the Tigray region until further notice,” said Samantha Power, head of USAID, in a statement.
Power said the agency has recently found that food aid sent for the people of Tigray facing famine-like conditions was being diverted and sold in the local market.
She said the USAID referred the matter to its Office of the Inspector General, which launched an investigation and sent leaders from its Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance to Ethiopia before taking the decision to temporarily pause the food aid.
Power said Washington has raised the matter with the officials from the Ethiopian federal government and the Tigray Interim Regional Administration. She said the officials have agreed to work with the US to identify and hold those responsible accountable.
She added that the USAID is ready to resume the aid once strong oversight measures are in place and it has confidence that assistance will reach the intended vulnerable populations.
On Wednesday, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) also announced that it has paused food distribution in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region and will not resume until it can ensure that the aid reaches the intended recipients.
The WFP also said it had stopped food distributions after learning of food diversion problems.
The organizations didn’t say who was responsible for the diversions or when they had taken place.
A two-year war that began in November 2020 between the federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front killed tens of thousands of people and resulted in famine-like conditions for hundreds of thousands and displaced millions.
Last year in November, the Ethiopian government and Tigray forces agreed to end hostilities, which has allowed additional aid to reach the region, as well as the restoration of some services.