“WFP takes this issue extremely seriously and will not tolerate any interference in its distribution of critical food aid to the most vulnerable women, men and children”, the agency said in a statement released on Wednesday night.
The agency has already launched a comprehensive investigation, and “taken swift action to establish all the facts and further strengthen our controls.”
Food distribution on hold
As a result, WFP has temporarily paused all food distributions in Tigray, saying that they will not resume until they can ensure aid will get to its intended recipients.
The brutal conflict between Ethiopian Government forces and the rebel fighters of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front erupted in November 2020, fought primarily across the northern province, but spilling into other parts of northern Ethiopia, drawing in forces from Eritrea, with allegations of war crimes committed on all sides.
Hundreds of thousands were reportedly killed and despite the formal cessation of hostilities in early November last year, the major humanitarian crisis exacerbated by the fighting, has continued.
Working with authorities
WFP said that it was working closely with the regional authorities to identify any individuals involved in diverted aid away, and would aim to “close any loopholes in the process of identifying and registering beneficiaries.”
“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 statement continued.
The agency said that it prided itself on ensuring that donor funds were used properly, putting stringent controls in place, “in order to best serve the millions of the hungry who depend on WFP’s lifesaving and life-changing assistance.”
WFP noted that 84 per cent of the region was in a state of food crisis.
“WFP is resolutely committed to ensure life-saving food assistance reaches those most in need efficiently and effectively.”