Africa

US aid agency denies feeding Ethiopia rebels

Local media houses released video of fighters in possession of USAID packets of energy biscuits

Addis Getachew Tadesse   | 24.08.2021
US aid agency denies feeding Ethiopia rebels File Photo

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia

A US aid agency on Tuesday denied supplying food to Tigray rebels fighting in regional states of Amhara and Afar.

“USAID rejects any accusation that food assistance is knowingly or willingly given to soldiers,” a brief statement posted by the US Embassy in Ethiopia on its official Facebook page read.

The denial came after Ethiopia’s local media widely circulated video footage showing combatants of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in possession of USAID packets of energy biscuits over the weekend.

“USAID monitors food distributions to ensure we are supporting the neediest, not combatants,” it said. “However, it is a reality that in conflict areas armed actors often steal food from those in need.”

It said that USAID is currently feeding 7% of the Ethiopian population "in every corner of the country."

Heavy battles are being fought on numerous fronts, despite a June 29 unilateral cease-fire declared by the government and the ensuing withdrawal of government troops from the northernmost region of Tigray.

The TPLF ruled Ethiopia for 27 years until 2018. Last November, its forces raided federal army bases stationed in Tigray, including in the capital Mekelle, killing soldiers and looting sizable military hardware. Consequently, the Ethiopian government launched a sweeping operation to quell the insurgency.

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