US provided food aid (Photo:WFP)
Addis Abeba – The committee established by the interim regional administration of Tigray to investigate diversion of humanitarian food in the region has revealed that the Ethiopian federal government entities and Eritrean forces had higher roles in the widescale food aid diversion.
General Fiseha Kidane, coordinator of the investigation committee who is also interim head of the regional peace and security bureau told the Tigray TV on Wednesday that, the humanitarian aid diversion scheme also involved Tigray regional authorities, IDP camp coordinators and aid workers.
According to him, the federal government entities have diverted over 4300 metric tons of wheat, close to 130,000 liters of cooking oil and 4,187 quintals of peas, whereas the Eritrean forces have diverted close to 2900 metric tons of wheat, over 43 thousand liters of cooking oil and 1,440 quintals of peas which were meant to be for the needy.
Furthermore, the Tigray regional authorities have diverted close to 1500 metric tons of wheat, 42,759 liters of cooking oil and 1,424 quintals of peas, General Fiseha stated.
He said 186 suspects alleged to have roles in the food aid diversion have been identified, out of whom seven have already been detained. The official didn’t give time frame as to when the aid diversion took place, nor specified the implicated federal and regional gov’ts entities. Both the Ethiopian federal government and Eritrea didn’t immediately react to the allegations.
This comes as the two major food aid donors to Ethiopia, USAID and the WFP have suspended food aid distribution in Ethiopia after revelations were made that the food aid diversion was not only limited to Tigray region, and is country wide. According to an internal memo of a 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”.
A joint statement made by Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and USAID pleaded commitment to conduct a full investigation into the “deeply concerning revelations of aid diversion” and to hold accountable those found responsible,
However, both the army and the federal government refused the allegations quickly. In a statement issued to local media, the federal government accused the USAID of defaming the Ethiopian government, its National Defense Force, and regional governments in its reports alleging to have conducted the investigation “without the involvement of government officials at any level”.
Similarly the army has refuted the allegations that its members have been involved in the aid diversion and called for restraint from media outlets. AS