Millions at risk as humanitarian crisis deepens
Ethiopia remains in a state of humanitarian crisis as the resumption of food aid distribution remains in limbo.
Officials from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Food Programme (WFP) remain uncertain about when food aid distributions will resume in Ethiopia, months after major aid agencies halted the distributions due to charges of aid diversion.
Food aid from the agencies has been halted since June, initially pausing aid to Tigray in March. The suspensions have left millions who rely on aid without options. At least 1,300 people died in Tigray due to lack of food and medicine, according to the region’s reports.
When asked by The Reporter about resuming aid, USAID Deputy Administrator for Policy and Programming, Isobel Coleman, said they are working with Ethiopia’s government to “restart distributions as soon as possible,” but gave no time frame.
USAID Ethiopia office first announced halting aid across Ethiopia on June 8. WFP followed suit and halted aid the next day.
The agencies discovered extensive theft of food aid meant for over 20 million people in dire need. Noting early signs in northern part of Ethiopia, the duo took the measure in March 2023. Since then, they have called for investigations and accountability.
At a briefing on Thursday, Coleman told The Reporter that USAID is “focused on restarting distributions in Ethiopia as soon as possible,” though she gave no timeline.
A spokesperson of the WFP, who responded to The Reporter’s questions requesting anonymity, also said WFP is gearing up to introduce new controlling mechanisms for the aid it distributes to “safeguard lifesaving food assistance.”
According to this spokesperson, the agency “is in the final stages of implementing and checking new enhanced controls.”
The introduction of new controls and mechanisms for aid distribution is crucial in ensuring that aid reaches those in need, the spokesperson said.
While the WFP has not yet announced a resumption date, the UN team suggests that “significant progress has been made to continue rolling out comprehensive measures by introducing a new targeting methodology to identify the most vulnerable.”
The new methodology includes a digital registration system, new bag markings for tracking purposes, strengthening of complaints and feedback mechanisms, and training for humanitarian partners.
The WFP had previously announced plans to restart aid distribution in July, but this has not yet occurred. As the humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia continues to deepen,