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Risch on USAID’s Decision to Resume Food Assistance to Ethiopia

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today released the following statement on the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) announcement that it would resume U.S. food assistance to Ethiopia:

“Several months ago, an undeniable truth came to light and forced the United States to pump the breaks on food aid to Ethiopia: our aid was not reaching the people who needed it most. Instead, it was being diverted on a systematic and widespread basis to materially benefit armed actors and corrupt officials.

“USAID’s announcement that it is prepared to resume U.S. food assistance in Ethiopia follows a long-awaited agreement with the government of Ethiopia to ensure our aid is efficient, effective, and transparent. This agreement also promises that food can be targeted toward those who need it most. This decision should be greeted with caution, however. It is notable that the agreement will restore aid on a trial basis.

“The Ethiopian government must uphold its commitments, which took entirely too long to secure. It must also hold corrupt officials accountable for diverting aid for their own benefit and denying humanitarian organizations access to the populations in need. At the same time, the United States and international partners, including the World Food Program, must also closely examine their own controls to prevent aid diversion. International donors must have confidence that food is, in fact, reaching the most vulnerable. ”