After the cessation of looting, WFP resumes distribution in Ethiopia

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) resumed the distribution of food to some 900 thousand refugees across Ethiopia following updated safeguards and controls following reports of widespread looting of its contributions.

Assistant Executive Director of WFP Valerie Gwarnieri said: “Food is a lifeline for refugees living in unimaginably difficult conditions and it is a satisfaction that we now have procedures in place to resume vital support.”

On August 9, the program resumed distribution of food aid in parts of the Tigray region.

He said he began testing and verifying new procedures last July 31 to provide food assistance in 4 Tigray provinces to just over 100 thousand eligible people.

The program suspended the distribution of food throughout Ethiopia last June after the United States announced it would do the same because of the diversion of aid.

Neither WFP nor USAID provided any details on the diversion of aid that led to their decision.

However, an internal briefing by a group of foreign donors seen by Reuters said USAID believed the food had been converted into Ethiopian military units under a scheme run by federal and regional government entities.

“We have taken the difficult and necessary decision, because we cannot proceed with the distribution of humanitarian aid until the reforms are in place,” a US spokesperson said.

He added: “We intend to resume food assistance once we are confident in the integrity of the aid delivery systems.”

More than 20 million people need food assistance in Africa’s second most populous country after the worst drought in the Horn of Africa in decades and the two-year conflict in the Tigray region, which has killed tens of thousands.

Over the past six months, some 35 thousand people have fled the Sudan for Ethiopia.

Ethiopia hosts another 850 thousand refugees, mostly from Somalia, South Sudan and Eritrea.

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