USAID announced that they will freeze food aid to the Tigray region, in Ethiopiascarred by war, after discovering that shipments were diverted to local markets.
“We have made the difficult decision to halt all USAID-supported food assistance in the Tigray region until further notice,” he said. Samantha Powerdirector of USAID, the main international aid agency of the government of USA.
The agency recently “discovered that food aid, intended for the people of Tigray suffering from famine-like conditions, was being diverted and sold on the local market.”Power said in a statement.
He World Food Program (WFP) also said it had “halted” food distributions in Tigray after learning of food diversion issues.
Distribution “will not resume until WFP can ensure vital aid reaches its intended recipients,” it said in a statement.
Neither agency identified who was taking the food aid and reselling it.
But they said they had raised the issue with Ethiopian federal and Tigray regional officials.
The WFP said it had reminded regional officials to monitor and report illegal activities and enforce food distribution agreements.
Power said authorities had pledged to help identify the people behind the diverted supplies and hold them accountable.
“USAID is ready to restart paused food assistance only when strong oversight measures are in place and we are confident that assistance will reach the intended vulnerable populations”said.
WFP said it “takes this issue extremely seriously and will not tolerate any interference in its distribution of critical food aid to the most vulnerable women, men and children.”
Millions of people in Tigray are suffering from food shortages after a devastating two-year war between pro-government forces and the Tigray Popular Liberation Front.
The WFP said that 84 percent of the Tigray region faces a food crisis.
“WFP is firmly committed to ensuring that vital food assistance reaches those most in need efficiently and effectively”said.
A peace agreement signed on November 2 has just passed the six-month mark, and implementation of the agreement has progressed slowly without a major return to fighting.
Power said USAID continues to distribute nutritional supplements, clean water, and support for agriculture and development.
(With information from AFP)
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