Statement from Refugees International President Jeremy Konyndyk:
“Averting starvation in Ethiopia depends on ensuring that aid is reaching those who need it. The discovery of a sophisticated mass diversion scheme within Ethiopia’s food aid distribution systems comes against the backdrop of a long history of aid manipulation and politicization in the country. While suspending food aid delivery is a fraught decision with real trade-offs, it is important for the United States to send a clear signal that this kind of manipulation will not be tolerated.
The diversion scheme must be thoroughly investigated, and perpetrators must be held accountable. The risk of fraud is always present in large-scale aid programs, particularly in conflict zones, and USAID’s investigative systems are among the best in the world. Donors, the UN, and the Ethiopian government must now work together to restore food aid, or pivot to direct cash distribution programs, as rapidly as possible. But restoring the program must not occur without firm accountability and new protections against diversion and manipulation.”
To schedule an interview, please contact Refugees International’s Vice President for Strategic Outreach Sarah Sheffer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured Image: A woman stands next to a queue of jerrycans for collecting water in a compound of abandoned buildings, where internally displaced people are sheltered, near the town of Dubti, 10 kilometers from Semera, Ethiopia, on June 7, 2022. (Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP via Getty Images)