Member of the United States Congress wants Ethiopia to remain excluded from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade preferences until the Ethiopian government investigates alleged diversions of humanitarian aid in Tigray Regional State.
Congressman Brad Sherman urged USAID and the Biden administration “not to reinstate the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) and not to back international lending for Ethiopia until US humanitarian monitors are on the ground.”
Sherman claims that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (Ph.D.) is actively seeking AGOA and international lending. The Congressman and Administrator of USAID argued in regards to the situation in Tigray.
Since two weeks ago, USAID has suspended the delivery of humanitarian aid to Tigray due to aid diversion.
“USAID uncovered that food aid, intended for the people of Tigray suffering under famine-like conditions, was being diverted and sold on the local market. Immediately after this discovery, USAID referred the matter to USAID’s Office of the Inspector General, which began an investigation,” reads a statement issued by USAID on May 3, 2023.
It states that a comprehensive review of the programs has been initiated and that senior leadership from the Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance has been deployed to Ethiopia to conduct additional assessments as part of the investigation. In coordination with the US Embassy in Addis Ababa and implementing partners, USAID determined that a temporary pause in food aid was the best course of action following the review.
“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.” However, during this week’s session with Congress, USAID administrator Samantha Power and Congressman Brad Sherman stated that the Ethiopian government isn’t allowing US humanitarian monitors on the ground in Tigray.
“Diversion of aid while over five million people in Tigray are in need is outrageous. We have paused the aid. We have to figure out how to get access on the ground. It is critical to have our humanitarian monitors on the ground,” Power told Congress.
On May 19, 2023, Sherman tweeted, “It is critical that aid diversion end immediately and humanitarian assistance resume as soon as possible in Tigray. Pleased to hear from Power that the US will not reward #Ethiopia with AGOA restoration until humanitarian aid gets to its intended recipients unencumbered.”
Close to 25 people have reportedly perished in Tigray due to a lack of humanitarian aid, according to Tigrayan officials.