By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE
Aid diversion claims in Ethiopia have begun to bite relief workers themselves, even as the stop in distribution of food and basic amenities increased suffering among the local populations.
This week, The New Humanitarian revealed officials of the World Food Programme (WFP) had quit their jobs, days before an official tripartite probe into the theft of food meant for the displaced was to publish findings.
The exact link between the resignations and the probe weren’t immediately clear, The New Humanitarian indicated, but they could add to pressure from the US, the largest food donor in Ethiopia and from within the UN itself keen to guard its reputation. Ethiopia is also keen to ensure food rations resume as quickly as possible as part of the post-war reconstruction in Tigray.
On Tuesday, WFP rejected what it described as an “inaccurate” report that its senior leadership in Ethiopia have resigned over aid diversion.
“There have been no resignations by senior management in WFP Ethiopia” the UN aid agency said in a statement.
“WFP’s Ethiopia Country Director, Mr Claude Jibidar is currently on leave and remains a WFP employee,” it said adding “Both deputy directors including Jennifer Bitonde remain in place.”
But the public refutation came as USAid, the biggest food donor in Ethiopia, suspended food supply citing integrity issues and diversion of the aid to local markets.
Sources told The New Humanitarian that both WFP Country Director Claude Jibidar and his deputy, Jennifer Bitonde, tendered their resignations at an all-staff meeting on June 2.
(Source: The East African)