Authorities in the Tigray region have formed an investigation team to inquire into the possible diversion of aid intended for war victims.
Getachew Reda, president of the Tigray Interim Administration, has assigned Fisseha Kidanu, a former military attaché at the Ethiopian Embassy in New York, as well as four other officials, to lead the team. Fisseha will chair the team.
Getachew promised to bring those responsible for the diversion to justice and directed the appointed officials to quickly find and prosecute the criminals.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has already halted aid to Tigray for more than 20 days in order to “ensure that vital aid reaches its intended recipients.” The decision was made because of growing concerns about the transparency and accountability of aid distribution following incidents of aid theft and diversion.
“WFP 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,” said the organization in a statement published on May 3, 2023.
Some kiosks in Tigray, particularly in Mekelle, have reportedly been observed selling WFP-marked sachets containing humanitarian supplies.
USAID has also joined the WFP, halting aid disbursement in Tigray. Samantha Power, Administrator of USAID, described the measure as a “difficult decision.”
Food aid intended for people in the region who are suffering from famine-like conditions was being diverted and sold on the local market, according to her.
“As a responsible humanitarian donor accountable to US taxpayers, USAID institutes robust oversight, monitoring, and evaluation systems so that U.S. assistance is used only by those for whom it is intended,” said Power, adding, “USAID stands 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.”
WFP also cautioned that aid distribution would not resume until assurances were provided that it would not be diverted. “WFP will not resume until WFP can ensure that vital aid will reach its intended recipients,” said the organization.
Getachew assures the aid organizations that his administration is prepared to take action regardless of who is to blame for the diversion.
“We are ready to look into ourselves,” Getachew remarked.
During aid distribution, the involvement of international organizations such as the WFP and the US is confined to ensuring that aid supplies reach Woredas, which are required to handle beneficiary distribution.
Meanwhile, the federal government’s responsibility would be to ensure the security of aid supplies.