Addis Abeba – Ethiopian Ministry of Defense has vehemently denied recent allegations that the country’s defense forces, along with other governmental bodies, have been involved in what the USAID described as “a country-wide diversion scheme” of food aid.
In a statement issued over the weekend, the Ministry of Defense, countering USAID’s claims, reiterated its commitment to the Ethiopian public saying that “one of the key values of the Ethiopian Defense Army is to prioritize the public and the country”, and it “would never deprive its people of their sustenance”.
The ministry, in defending the honor of its armed forces, insisted that the army operates under a strict regime of discipline, and that it has sufficient budget and logistics.
Addressing the humanitarian contributions of the Ethiopian defense forces, the statement read, “our army is equipped to assist those displaced both domestically and internationally, and those affected by drought, through the provision of material and financial aid.”
The statement concluded with a call for restraint from media outlets, encouraging them to wait for thorough investigations into such allegations before publishing potentially defamatory reports about the Ethiopian Defense Forces’ reputations.
It however pledged to take decisive measures if any individual member of the army is found complicit in collaborating with the thieves in the food diversion scheme.
According to an internal memo of a recent meeting by the donor community in Ethiopia obtained by Addis Standard the USAID said the food aid diversion “scheme appears to be orchestrated” by federal and regional governments entities, “with military units across the country benefiting from humanitarian assistance”.
Both the USAID and the WFP have suspended food aid distribution in Ethiopia after revelations were made that the food aid diversion was not limited to Tigray region, and is country wide. The Ethiopian government has expressed commitment to conduct a full investigation into the diversion of the food assistance and to hold accountable those found responsible. AS