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Ethiopia: WFP and USAID suspend part of their food aid

Ethiopia: WFP and USAID suspend part of their food aid
A worker walks next to a stack of bags of food destined for the Tigray...   -  
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The World Food Program (WFP) announced on Friday that it was in turn suspending part of its food aid to Ethiopia due to diversions, the day after a similar announcement by the American government.

"We will temporarily cease food aid in Ethiopia, but nutritional assistance to children, pregnant and lactating women, school meals programs and activities to strengthen farmers and herders" in the face of external shocks will continue without interruption, indicates the PAM in a press release.

"Diversion of food is absolutely unacceptable ," WFP executive director Cindy McCain said in the text, welcoming "the Ethiopian government's commitment to investigate and hold those responsible accountable . "

On Thursday, USAID , the US government's international aid agency, announced the suspension of its food aid to Ethiopia, denouncing a "widespread and coordinated operation to divert" this aid.

USAID "intends to immediately resume food aid as soon as we have confidence in the integrity of the distribution systems to get aid to its intended recipients ," the agency said.

The Ethiopian authorities, in a joint statement with USAID, assured Thursday evening that a joint investigation was underway "so that the perpetrators of these hijackings are accountable".

Friday, the WFP said "redouble efforts to improve controls and safeguards to ensure that food aid reaches the beneficiaries, vulnerable populations across Ethiopia".

"WFP is working closely with its UN partners, humanitarian organizations and local actors to reform the way aid is distributed across Ethiopia," the UN organization said in a statement.

About 20 million people, or 16% of the 120 million Ethiopians, depend on food aid, the UN humanitarian agency (Ocha) estimated at the end of May, due to conflicts or a historic drought in the region. Horn of Africa which displaced 4.6 million people through Ethiopia.

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