ADDIS ABABA, June 9 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) disclosed Friday it has decided to suspend its food aid assistance program in Ethiopia, citing large-scale aid misappropriation.
In a press statement, the UN agency quoting its Executive Director Cindy McCain said food diversion is absolutely unacceptable and that it welcomes the Ethiopian government's commitment to investigate and hold accountable those responsible for the misappropriation of food aid.
"Our first concern is the millions of hungry people who depend on our support, and our teams will work tirelessly with all partners to resume our operations as soon as we can ensure that food reaches the people who need it the most," the statement said.
It did not specifically mention the name of the entities that had diverted its food aid in the East African country.
"A comprehensive action plan to strengthen safeguards and controls across the country will include WFP and NGO partners working more directly with communities and using technology to select those most in need and verify their identity in real-time," the statement also said.
It further said that it will strengthen its food tracking system all the way to beneficiary families as well as reinforce the monitoring and reporting of violations by partners and the misuse of food aid.
The UN agency estimates more than 20 million people in Ethiopia affected by the ongoing drought and conflict urgently need humanitarian food assistance.