WFP suspends food aid assistance program in Ethiopia after widespread diversionstext_fields
Addis Ababa: The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) on Friday announced its decision to temporarily suspend the food aid assistance program in Ethiopia, citing large-scale aid misappropriation that had impacted distributions in the East African country.
“Food diversion is absolutely unacceptable and we welcome the Government of Ethiopia’s commitment to investigate and hold accountable those responsible,” WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain said in a statement.
"Our first concern is the millions of hungry people who depend on our support, and our teams will work tirelessly with all partners to resume our operations as soon as we can ensure that food reaches the people who need it the most," the statement said.
Despite the halt to food aid, nutrition assistance to children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, school meals programs, and activities for building the resilience of farmers and pastoralists will continue uninterrupted, the agency said.
It did not specifically mention the name of the entities that had diverted its food aid in the East African country.
"A comprehensive action plan to strengthen safeguards and controls across the country will include WFP and NGO partners working more directly with communities and using technology to select those most in need and verify their identity in real-time," the statement also said.
It further said that it will strengthen its food tracking system all the way to beneficiary families as well as reinforce the monitoring and reporting of violations by partners and the misuse of food aid.
The UN agency estimates more than 20 million people in Ethiopia affected by the ongoing drought and civil conflict urgently need humanitarian food assistance. The US is the largest single donor to the country, supplying aid worth $1.8bn (£1.4bn) in the past fiscal year.