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UN suspends food assistance as Ethiopia wrestles with aid diversions

Food diversion is absolutely unacceptable,” said WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain, following a joint statement made by Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and USAID announcing their commitment to addressing deeply concerning revelations of aid diversion.

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“While we will temporarily halt food aid assistance in Ethiopia, nutrition assistance to children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, school meals programmes, and activities for building the resilience of farmers and pastoralists will continue uninterrupted,” she said, welcoming the Ethiopian Government’s commitment to investigate and hold accountable those responsible.

Widespread theft

Over the past months, large aid deliveries have been stolen, according to media reports.

“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 SFP chief said.

More than 20 million people in Ethiopia urgently need humanitarian food assistance, as the long-lasting effects of conflict and drought continue, according to the agency.

“WFP is working closely with its UN and humanitarian partners and local stakeholders to reform the way assistance is delivered across Ethiopia and in all high-risk operational contexts where we work,” she said, adding that the agency takes this issue very seriously and will take every necessary step to ensure that critical food assistance reaches those who need it most.

Find out how WFP is helping Ethiopians here.

Children eat food provided by one of WFP's home grown school feeding programmes in South Omo, Ethiopia.
© WFP/Michael Tewelde

Children eat food provided by one of WFP’s home grown school feeding programmes in South Omo, Ethiopia.

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