News: WFP refutes resignation of its senior leadership in Ethiopia

WFP convoy trucks delivering food and nutrition supplies to Tigray (Photo: WFP Ethiopia)

Addis Abeba – The World Food Program (WFP) has denied what it described as an inaccurate media report about the resignation of its senior leadership in Ethiopia.

The organization said in a statement on Tuesday that “there has been no resignations by senior management in WFP Ethiopia”, adding that Claude Jibidar WFP country director in Ethiopia “is currently on leave and remains a WFP employee” whereas both deputy directors including  Jennifer Bitonde are on their duty.

The statement came following a report by The New Humanitarian on Tuesday of the resignations of the senior leadership of the WFP in Ethiopia ahead of an announcement of the findings of a probe into the diversion of food aid in the Tigray region that has resulted in aid suspension.

Both Claude Jibidar and Jennifer Bitonde were tendered their resignations at an all-staff meeting on 02 June 2023, according to the report.

WFP’s statement further noted that WFP Ethiopia employees “remain on-site and continue to work closely with all stakeholders to resume distributions as soon as possible and is committed to full transparency”.

“We are in the midst of rolling out comprehensive, systemic measures to prevent any further interference with lifesaving food assistance from reaching those who depend on it for their survival,” the statement added.

In early May, both WFP and USAID suspended food distributions in Tigray where millions are dependent on relief pending the results of an internal inquiry.

The suspension has excaserbated the already dire humanitarian crisis in Tigray region causing the increase of hunger related deaths and children dying of acute malnutrition, Addis Standard reported.

Getachew Reda, the interim president of Tigray region tweeted on Monday that his administration briefed Ambassador Mike Hammer, US special envoy for the Horn of Africa, and Tracy Jacobson, US ambassador to Ethiopia who visited Mekelle on 05 June, about the preliminary findings of the investigation on allegations of aid diversion.

“We have shared highlights of findings and reassured them that we will make the findings public and hold those responsible to account very soon,” the president said. AS

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