The Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) on Saturday denied that any of its personnel are involved in food aid theft.
In a press statement, the ENDF said some “media reports” that its personnel were involved in the theft of food aid meant for the country’s civilian population are untrue.
“The ENDF is a modern army that adheres to strict discipline. The ENDF is widely known as a people’s army for providing a portion of its own food supplies to Ethiopian citizens as well as countries where it’s been deployed in peacekeeping missions,” the statement said.
The statement further said the Ethiopian army has enough supplies of its own and as such has no need to grab aid from needy Ethiopians.
The ENDF statement, however, said if one of its personnel is discovered after an impartial investigation to have diverted food aid meant for Ethiopian civilians, it will take stern measures on guilty personnel.
The statement also accused unnamed local and foreign entities of disseminating hateful and defaming information.
On Friday, the World Food Programme (WFP) disclosed that it has decided to suspend its food aid assistance programme in Ethiopia, citing large-scale aid misappropriation.
The United Nations (UN) agency estimates that more than 20 million people in Ethiopia affected by ongoing drought and conflict urgently need humanitarian food assistance.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has appealed for urgent funding to respond to the growing humanitarian needs in Ethiopia.
UNICEF, in its latest Ethiopia humanitarian situation report issued late Friday, said its Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) 2023 Appeal requires 674.3 million U.S. dollars to meet the critical humanitarian needs of children, adolescents, women and men in Ethiopia.
“Including 50.9 million U.S. dollars in funds carried over from 2022, only 120.4 million U.S. dollars has been received towards the appeal to date, representing only 18 per cent of the required needs to reach children and their families with critical lifesaving and life-sustaining support,” UNICEF said.
Within the appeal, funding dedicated to the response in northern Ethiopia has been budgeted at 255.7 million dollars and fully incorporated into the HAC, it said.