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Ethiopia "welcomes" US decision to resume food aid

Ethiopia "welcomes" US decision to resume food aid
FILE - An Ethiopian woman scoops up portions of wheat to be allocated to each waiting   -  
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Ben Curtis/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.


Ethiopia on Wednesday "welcomed" the announcement that the US Development Agency (USAID) would resume the delivery of food aid throughout the country, suspended in June, following the conclusion of an agreement to monitor aid distribution.

USAID announced on Tuesday that it would resume deliveries from next month, for an initial period of one year, during which the agency will monitor whether the Ethiopian state fulfills its commitments, against a backdrop of accusations that aid has been diverted to benefit soldiers.

"We welcome USAID's decision to resume food aid to Ethiopia. It is imperative to speed up the process of resuming food aid to reach all those in need," said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Demeke Mekonnen on X (ex-Twitter).

In June, Addis Ababa criticized the suspension of food aid by the American agency, a decision also taken by the UN World Food Program (WFP) because of misappropriations, claiming that it "punishes millions of people".

USAID had already announced in early October a limited resumption of food aid deliveries to meet the needs of thousands of refugees in Africa's second most populous country.

The resumption was to concern some thirty camps in Ethiopia, which hosts nearly a million refugees, mainly from South Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea.

Some 20 million people, or 16% of Ethiopia's 120 million inhabitants, are dependent on food aid, as estimated by the UN humanitarian agency (Ocha) at the end of October, due to conflicts and a historic drought in the Horn of Africa, which have displaced 4.6 million people across the country.

In May, the UN and the United States suspended the distribution of food aid to the northern region of Tigray, ravaged by two years of war, before extending it to the whole country.

At the beginning of October, the WFP stated that it had resumed aid deliveries "after a total reorganization of safeguards and controls" on refugee operations.

Ethiopia is plagued by serious internal violence, a deteriorating economic situation, and chronic natural disasters.

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