Ethiopia: the United States resumes humanitarian aid suspended since June

For the time being, the resumption of food aid to Ethiopia remains limited to refugees. Last June, USAID and the WFP decided to suspend their aid, due to accusations of misappropriation. However, other forms of support, notably health and nutrition, have not been interrupted.

In Ethiopia, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced on Thursday, October 5, that it was restarting food aid to refugee populations. “The resumption of food aid to refugees will save lives and alleviate the suffering of some of the most vulnerable,” it stated in its official note.

As a reminder, USAID and the World Food Program (WFP) had suspended their food assistance last June after discovering a “coordinated program of detour”. In August, the WFP resumed distribution to refugees, but only in the Tigray region.

USAID stresses that its decision comes after the Ethiopian government and its implementing partners reformed the refugee food aid structure. According to the US agency, “the reforms put in place strengthen monitoring and oversight of programs and products, and improve beneficiary registration processes”.

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Among other reasons for its decision, the Ethiopian government has transferred responsibility for the shipment, storage and distribution of food aid to refugees to Usaid’s implementing partners.

However, USAID points out that the resumption of food assistance currently concerns refugees only. “[…] our assistance to other food-insecure populations across Ethiopia remains suspended until we are assured that it will reach its intended beneficiaries,” the statement said.

Food aid is crucial for Ethiopia. According to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) last May, almost 20 million people, or 16% of the 120 million Ethiopians, depend on it. The Horn of Africa is plagued by conflict and acute drought, against a backdrop of galloping inflation. This situation has led to the displacement of 4.6 million people across the country.

Ethiopia also hosts almost a million refugees, mainly from South Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea, countries marked by instability and armed conflict.

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