ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopian and the US authorities on Thursday announced their commitment to address what they called “deeply concerning revelations” diversion of food aid in the northern region of the east African nation.
In a joint statement today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the USAID said they “are conducting investigations so that the perpetrators of such diversion are held to account.”
The two governments are also committed “to collaborate toward an efficient aid distribution system in Ethiopia, which would safeguard assistance from diversion,” the statement reads.
The probe was launched after relief food meant for people in need of aid in the Tigray region found in the local markets.
Last month, The World Food Program (WFP) said it immediately paused food distributions in the region “after finding evidence of significant food aid sales in local markets”. The USAID also took similar measures, pending investigation.
The issue was among the subjects of discussions when Deputy premier and foreign minister Demeke Mekonnen met with US State Secretary Antony Blinken on the margins of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Ministerial in Riyadh on Thursday.
“Both parties emphasized that the issue is of mutual concern, necessitating accountability measures based on a thorough investigation,” the Foreign ministry said.
The UN says Over 20 million people are in dire need of humanitarian food assistance in Ethiopia in 2023, due to the impact of prolonged conflict and drought.