USAID suspends food to Ethiopia after investigation found it was being sold or diverted
Officials have been taking aid from those in need to give it to military members and ex-combatants as well as selling it to millers, the USAID probe found.
The U.S. Agency for International Development is suspending food aid to Ethiopia after a probe discovered that the donated food was being stolen as part of a widespread scheme, the federal agency announced Thursday in a decision that will impact millions of people.
The scheme appeared to be coordinated by parts of both the federal and regional governments in Ethiopia, according to documents reviewed by The Washington Post.
Officials have been taking aid from those in need to give it to military members and ex-combatants as well as selling it to millers, who have been taking the flour and reexporting it, the USAID probe found.
"After a country-wide review, USAID determined, in coordination with the Government of Ethiopia, that a widespread and coordinated campaign is diverting food assistance," USAID said. "We cannot move forward with distribution of food assistance until reforms are in place."
A report from the Humanitarian Resilience Development Donor Group, which is an organization of donors that USAID briefed, stated: "Extensive monitoring indicates this diversion of donor-funded food assistance is a coordinated and criminal scheme, which has prevented life-saving assistance from reaching the most vulnerable. ... The scheme appears to be orchestrated by federal and regional Government of Ethiopia (GoE) entities, with military units across the country benefiting from humanitarian assistance."
Ethiopia, Africa's second-most populous nation, has been facing challenges in attempts to feed about 20 million people, or about a sixth of the country's population, after a civil war, rampant inflation and drought.
USAID had already paused all food assistance in Ethiopia's Tigray region last month after the agency had discovered that food was being diverted and sold locally.