The World Food Programme (WFP) has declared that it would temporarily suspend a portion of its food aid to Ethiopia due to instances of diversion.
The WFP, however, specified that nutritional assistance for children, pregnant and lactating women, school meals programs, and initiatives to support farmers and herders in times of external shocks would continue without interruption, as stated in a press release.
Cindy McCain, the executive director of the WFP, strongly condemned the diversion of food, emphasizing its absolute unacceptability. She welcomed the Ethiopian government’s commitment to investigate the issue thoroughly and ensure accountability for those responsible.
On Thursday, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) had announced the suspension of its food aid to Ethiopia, citing a “widespread and coordinated operation to divert” the aid. However, USAID expressed its intention to resume food assistance immediately once confidence in the integrity of the distribution systems is regained, ensuring aid reaches the intended recipients.
In a joint statement with USAID, the Ethiopian authorities confirmed that a collaborative investigation was already underway to hold the perpetrators accountable for these diversions.
The WFP, on Friday, expressed its commitment to redouble efforts in improving controls and safeguards to guarantee that food aid reaches vulnerable populations across Ethiopia. The organization stated that it is working closely with its UN partners, humanitarian organizations, and local actors to reform the distribution of aid in Ethiopia, according to a statement released.
According to estimates by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in late May, around 20 million people, approximately 16% of Ethiopia’s population of 120 million, rely on food aid due to conflicts and a long-lasting drought in the Horn of Africa region, resulting in the displacement of 4.6 million people within Ethiopia.