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USAID Halts Food Aid to Tigray Region of Ethiopia Amidst Ongoing Conflict

On Wednesday, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) declared a temporary suspension of food assistance to Ethiopia's Tigray region.

Shivam Dwivedi
USAID Halts Food Aid to Tigray Region of Ethiopia Amidst Ongoing Conflict
USAID Halts Food Aid to Tigray Region of Ethiopia Amidst Ongoing Conflict

USAID Administrator Samantha Power described the decision as "difficult" because the agency had recently uncovered that food aid meant for individuals in famine-like conditions in the region was being diverted and sold on the local market.

According to her, the agency referred the situation to its Office of the Inspector General, which initiated an inquiry, and sent leaders from its Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance to Ethiopia before choosing to halt food distribution temporarily.

Power stated that the United States has raised its concerns with officials from the Ethiopian federal government and the Tigray Interim Regional Administration, and that the officials have expressed a willingness to collaborate with the United States in identifying and holding those responsible accountable.

She stated that USAID "stands ready" to relaunch the programme if adequate control procedures are in place and the agency is confident that funding would reach the intended disadvantaged groups.

A two-year battle between the federal government and troops commanded by the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the region's dominant party, erupted in November 2020, killing tens of thousands, causing famine-like circumstances for hundreds of thousands, and displacing millions.

The government and Tigrayan forces agreed to cease the fighting in November, allowing more supplies to reach the region and some services to be restored. Power stated that the pause has added to the suffering of Ethiopian civilians and reaffirmed the US commitment to the Ethiopian people.

"While food aid to the Tigray Region has been paused, other vital assistance that is not implicated in the diversion scheme will continue, including life-saving nutritional supplements, safe drinking water, and support for agricultural activities and development," she said.

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