July 14, 2024

USAID Halts Food Aid to Tigray, Ethiopia Amid Diversion Allegations

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced the suspension of all USAID-supported food assistance in the Tigray region of Ethiopia until further notice. The decision follows the discovery of food aid, intended for famine-stricken Tigray residents, being diverted and sold on local markets.

The United States remains the largest humanitarian donor to Ethiopia, maintaining a commitment to the Ethiopian people despite these recent setbacks.

According to a statement from USAID Administrator Samantha Power, the agency referred the matter to the Office of the Inspector General and launched an investigation.

Additionally, senior leadership from the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance was deployed to Ethiopia for further assessments. In coordination with the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa and implementing partners, USAID determined that a temporary pause in food aid was the best course of action.

The U.S. government has raised its concerns with officials from both the Ethiopian federal government and the Tigray Interim Regional Administration. Both parties have expressed their willingness to cooperate in identifying and holding those responsible for the diversion accountable. USAID states that the paused food assistance will only be restarted when strong oversight measures are in place and they are confident that assistance will reach the intended vulnerable populations.

The recent conflict in northern Ethiopia has left millions of people experiencing acute food insecurity. While food aid to the Tigray region is paused, other vital assistance, including life-saving nutritional supplements, safe drinking water, and support for agricultural activities and development, will continue. These efforts are not implicated in the diversion scheme.

USAID emphasized the importance of robust oversight, monitoring, and evaluation systems to ensure that U.S. assistance is used only by those for whom it is intended, and remains accountable to U.S. taxpayers.

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