Ethiopia extended a warm reception to the recent announcement by the US Development Agency (USAID) regarding the resumption of food aid delivery across the country. The aid had been suspended in June but is set to resume following an agreement to oversee aid distribution.
USAID disclosed its plans on Tuesday to restart deliveries from the coming month, with an initial duration of one year. The agency intends to monitor the Ethiopian government’s fulfillment of its commitments amidst concerns of aid diversion benefiting soldiers.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Demeke Mekonnen, expressed gratitude for the decision by USAID to recommence food aid in Ethiopia. Mekonnen emphasized the urgency of accelerating the process to ensure aid reaches all those in dire need.
Back in June, Addis Ababa had criticized the suspension of food aid by the American agency, along with a similar move by the UN World Food Program (WFP), citing that it unfairly impacted millions of people.
Earlier in October, USAID had announced a partial resumption of food aid deliveries to cater to the requirements of thousands of refugees in Ethiopia’s nearly thirty camps, hosting close to a million refugees predominantly from South Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea.
An estimated 20 million people, roughly 16% of Ethiopia’s population of 120 million, rely on food aid, according to the UN humanitarian agency (Ocha) as of late October. This need stems from conflicts and a severe drought in the Horn of Africa, displacing 4.6 million individuals across the country.
Tigray, a region heavily affected by two years of conflict, had its food aid distribution suspended by the UN and the United States in May before expanding the suspension countrywide.
By early October, the WFP announced the resumption of aid deliveries following a comprehensive overhaul of safeguards and controls in refugee operations.
Ethiopia continues to grapple with internal violence, economic challenges, and recurrent natural disasters, contributing to a complex humanitarian situation.