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News Analysis: Days After USAID Accused It Of Obstructing Aid Delivery Into Tigray, Fed. Gov’t Accuses Aid Agencies Of Colluding with TPLF; USAID rejects accusation

Mitiku Kassa, Commissioner of the National Disaster Risk Management Commission. Photo: Arts TV

By Bileh Jelan @BilehJelan

Addis Abeba, August 24/2021 – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in a series of tweets on the account of the US Embassy in Addis Abeba, responded to accusations levied against it on social media platforms of obstructing aid delivery to the people of Tigray in collaboration with Tigray People’s Liberation. 

The Embassy said, “USAID rejects any accusation that food assistance is knowingly or willingly given to soldiers. USAID monitors food distributions to ensure we are supporting the neediest, not combatants.” 

It continued, “However, it is a reality that in conflict areas armed actors often steal food from those in need. USAID is Ethiopia’s largest donor of life-saving food and care. We are currently feeding roughly 7% of Ethiopia’s citizens in every corner of the country.”

This prompt response came after state media  aired a report that said, “It was confirmed that international aid organizations operating in Tigray were providing the TPLF with narcotics.”  The report cited a former member of ENDF who allegedly defected to TPLF and was caught fighting in the South Gondar Zone. 

Moreover, the National Disaster Risk Management Commission Commissioner, Mitiku Kassa, spoke to local media (Comments were corrected later on) and responded to what he described as allegations by international aid agencies, accusing the federal government of obstructing aid delivery. 

The commissioner said. “All aid agencies operating in the Tigray region have been asked to submit their distribution reports, but no one has done so yet,” he explained the move by disclosing that a TPLF leader was captured in possession of food aid in South Gondar . 

Commissioner Mitiku accused the TPLF of distrubig aid aimed for the people of Tigray and using it for their own gain. He added, “In the future, aid agencies will be required to report in the areas where they are engaged,” before concluding, “It is unacceptable to accuse the federal government of everything while lagging in ensuring that food aid is delivered to those in need.”

Recent developments come days after the USAID chief Samantha Power accused the federal government of obstructing the delivery of aid into the region. The top US humanitarian chief in a statement said, ““Despite the small trickle of convoys into Tigray and an average of two UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) flights per week to Mekele during the first half of August, the flow of humanitarian assistance remains woefully insufficient. This shortage is not because food is unavailable, but because the Ethiopian Government is obstructing humanitarian aid and personnel, including land convoys and air access.

Before adding, “The U.S. calls on the Ethiopian Government to immediately allow humanitarian assistance to swiftly move into Tigray in order to prevent a catastrophic stop to food assistance that millions need to survive.” AS

Editor’s Note: The article was edited to include recent developments.

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