Dishonest officials have opened phony accounts in beneficiaries’ names
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Abala zone of the Afar region are staging a protest against the role that government officials played in the corruption of aid funds.
The corruption in the aid sector is being blamed on a network of administrators, party leaders, and representatives at the regional, zonal, woreda, and kebele levels.
Protesters voiced their concern that a corrupt network of officials are diverting funds intended for humanitarian aid.
The Urkud, Murga, and Asalili kebeles in the Abala Zone are alleged to be the main victims of the alleged aid corruption. Beneficiaries from the kebeles surrounding Abala town staged a protest on Monday over the misappropriation of aid meant for IDPs.
During the fighting between the federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the IDPs were relocated to the kebeles surrounding the town of Abala. Some IDPs are still unable to return home because they are wary of unofficial armed groups in the border regions of Tigray and Afar.
Abala was one of the areas that saw intense fighting during the conflict. More than 300,000 people were displaced by the fighting in the Afar regional state alone.
Representatives for the IDPs contend that aid does not go to the intended victims because of corruption and misuse at the regional, zonal, woreda, and kebele levels.
“Around 2,000 individual beneficiaries in our kebele have not received aid so far. But the aid is coming in our names,” said Ali Dama, coordinator of IDPs in Murga Kebele in the Abala zone of the Afar region. “Aid is continuously coming to the region. It is hijacked, especially at zone and woreda levels.”
Among the many humanitarian groups that provide aid in the Afar region are the World Food Programme (WFP), Mersi Corp., and Plan International. No humanitarian organizations, however, are involved in the distribution process. Aid is distributed by zonal, woreda, and kebele officials.
Humanitarian groups provide two types of assistance: monthly distribution of flour, edible oil, medicine, and other consumer products, and emergency assistance. A portion of humanitarian aid is provided through the safety net program, while the remaining is emergency assistance.
Also provided is direct cash. However, according to protestors interviewed by the reporter, dishonest officials have opened phony accounts in the beneficiaries’ names.
“Relatives and clans of the officials are given false bank accounts and badges. The cash aid is transferred to them, and the majority is taken by the corrupt officials. But the right beneficiaries have been unable to receive aid for several months. The IDPs are in serious condition currently. We have knocked on government offices, but there is no solution,” Ali said.
According to sources, the bogus beneficiaries are given cash transfers ranging from 1,800 to 20,000 birr each person.
Officials from the Afar regional state and the Abala region did not respond to The Reporter’s requests for comment. Debebe Zewdie, the director of public relations for the National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC), likewise wasn’t available for comment on the matter.
“We are providing humanitarian assistance in Afar. We provide the assistance based on our assessments of the beneficiaries. But we have no role in distributing the aid. Distribution is handled by the government structure there. We have no control once we deliver the aid to the region,” said Melese Awoke, senior communication officer at World Food Program (WFP) Ethiopia.
However, aid corruption, according to Melese, is common.