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WFP suspends food distribution in Ethiopia“s Tigray over diversion fears


World Food Programme employee walks between sacks of food at the Um Rakuba refugee camp which houses Ethiopian refugees fleeing the fighting in the Tigray region, on the Sudan-Ethiopia border in Sudan, November 29, 2020. REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo

The U.N. World Food Programme has paused food distribution in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and will not resume until it can ensure the aid will reach the intended recipients, the agency said, citing reports that significant aid was being diverted.

The announcement follows a similar one by the U.S. Agency for International Development, which said on Wednesday it had discovered that food intended for people in Tigray, which is suffering famine-like conditions, was being diverted and sold.

“WFP is also strongly reiterating to our cooperating partners that they monitor and report any illicit activities, and that they are enforcing the agreed controls,” the U.N. food agency said in a statement late on Wednesday.

The WFP did not say who was responsible for the diversions or when it had taken place.

A two-year war that erupted in November 2020 between the federal government and forces led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which dominates the northern region, killed tens of thousands of people, created famine-like conditions for hundreds of thousands, and displaced millions.

The government and Tigray forces agreed to end hostilities in November, which has allowed additional aid to reach the region and for some services to be restored.

The WFP said 84% of the region was in a food crisis.