U.S. , via USAID, says it did not deliberately distribute food aid to TPLF combatants, and makes assumption that it might have been stolen
Days after reports exposed the consumption of nutritious and “high energy” World Food Program biscuits by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) force, the U.S. denied that it did not provide it for TPLF forces.
A brief statement from the U.S. embassy in Addis Ababa, which it shared on social media, tends to paint the story in a tone that rather paints it as something normal in a conflict situation.
It said, “USAID rejects any accusation that food assistance is knowingly or willingly given to soldiers. USAID monitors food distributions to ensure we are supporting the neediest, not combatants. However, it is a reality that in conflict areas armed actors often steal food from those in need…”
When the Ethiopian Defense Force and Amhara special forces defeated TPLF forces in the battle of Gasay Town, in Amhara regional state, sometime last week, top TPLF military commander that was leading the TPLF force in the battle, Colonel Gebrehiwot Gebreaelaf, was captured.
It was from his backpack that the Ethiopian Forces seized the high energy biscuit. During an interview with state owned Television, he described what the biscuit tastes like and how the body reacts after consumption.
From what he said, it appears that the TPLF leadership distributed it to the forces as they were deployed in the Amhara and Afar regions.
The USAID, whose Administrator Samantha Power was pushing for a “humanitarian corridor” between Port Sudan and Tigray as she was visiting Ethiopia, seems to be making a case that TPLF stole the food aid that was meant to be distributed to the needy in the Tigray region.
The TPLF has not yet reacted to the statement from the USAID.
Ethiopian activists and politicians do not seem to buy the excuses by USAID that was meant to deny that food aid is delivered to TPLF.
From the diplomatic, political and media campaigns that have been underway since the TPLF lost the war in December 2020, most Ethiopians, based on social media conversations, tend to believe that the U.S. government and the European Union had intent to bring TPLF back to power.
The radical ethnic nationalist organization has committed several atrocities and massacres since the war started in Tigray, Afar and Amhara regions of Ethiopia, but there was no unequivocal and clear condemnation from the state and non-state actors that have been accusing Ethiopia of committing human rights violations in the Tigray region.