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Article: UN agency joins US in stopping Ethiopia food aid after thefts

UN agency joins US in stopping Ethiopia food aid after thefts

UN agency joins US in stopping Ethiopia food aid after thefts

PHOTO CAPTION: Illustrative photo via Reuters


By Giulia Paravicini

NAIROBI (Reuters) -The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday it was temporarily halting its food aid assistance in Ethiopia due to the widespread theft of donations, a day after the United States announced it was doing the same.

More than 20 million people need food aid in Africa's second most-populous nation, largely as a result of the Horn of Africa's worst drought in decades and a two-year conflict in the north that left tens of thousands dead before ending in a truce last year.

Neither WFP nor the U.S. Agency for International Development provided details about the diversions of aid that led to their decisions, but an internal briefing by a group of foreign donors said USAID believes food has been diverted to Ethiopian military units.

Spokespeople for Ethiopia's government, military and foreign affairs ministry have not responded to Reuters' requests for comment.

“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," WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain said in a statement.

McCain said she welcomed the Ethiopian government's commitment to investigate and hold accountable those responsible, echoing comments made by U.S. officials on Thursday.

WFP said that nutrition assistance to children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, school meals programs, and activities for building the resilience of farmers and pastoralists would continue uninterrupted.

(Reporting by Giulia ParaviciniAdditional reporting by Dawit Endeshaw in Addis Ababa Editing by Aaron Ross and Alexander Winning)



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