The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has paused food distribution in Ethiopia’s war-ravaged Tigray region following reports that significant amounts of aid were being diverted, the agency revealed.
The announcement follows a similar one by the US Agency for International Development, which on Wednesday said it had discovered that food intended for millions of needy people in Tigray was being diverted and sold.
The organisations did not detail the source of the reports and the WFP did not mention who was responsible for the diversions or when they had occurred.
It however mentioned late on Wednesday that it was strongly reiterating to our cooperating partners that they monitor and report any illicit activities, and that they are enforcing the agreed controls.
Reconsider The Suspension
Tigray’s interim regional government head Getachew Reda urged humanitarian agencies to reconsider suspending aid, saying in a statement that the moves would hurt their people who are facing grave challenges.
He said he had set up a task force to investigate, calling the reported theft a crime against children, the elderly and the disabled.
A spokesperson for Ethiopia’s federal government is yet to immediately respond to a request for comment.
A two-year war that started in November 2020 between the federal government and forces led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which dominates the northern region, killed tens of thousands of people, created famine-like conditions for hundreds of thousands and displaced millions.
Ethiopia’s government and Tigray forces agreed to end hostilities in November, which has allowed additional aid to reach the region and for some services to be restored.