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Tigray responds to WFP Chief Accusation of Fuel Theft



On 8:47 PM Aug 24, 2022, the Abiy regime demanded that WFP and OCHA issue statements condemning the TPLF.

Within less than three hours, the WFP chief, David Beasley, known to be a close friend of Abiy Ahmed and an evangelical co-religionist posted the a message below accusing Tigray authorities of stealing fuel.

The WFP has later also issued a similar statement. David Beasley is known to engage in photo-ops, outright lies and exaggerations that invariably play into the Abiy regime propaganda against Tigray. The following a Tigray government response to the fuel theft accusation.

Response to the WFP’s Baseless Allegations of “Stolen” Fuel  

At the outset, the Government of Tigray would like to state that it seeks to maintain a good working  relationship with humanitarian partners working hard to provide desperately needed aid to the  people of Tigray, including the World Food Program (WFP). We are grateful to the various aid  agencies operating in Tigray for their humanity as they seek to alleviate the suffering of the people  of Tigray, who have been subjected to a deadly siege imposed by the Abiy regime.  

Nonetheless, we are profoundly disturbed by WFP Executive Director David Beasley’s unhelpful  public outburst, accusing the Government of Tigray of “stealing” fuel tankers belonging to the  WFP. Director Beasley should have known better than to make such incendiary allegations without  digesting the full set of facts surrounding the issue. The Government of Tigray has not “stolen”  any fuel tankers. It had loaned over six hundred thousand liters of fuel to the WFP, and it simply  demanded that it be paid back in accordance with the agreement we had. The fuel will be used to  run basic services, such as hospitals, clinics and other health facilities across Tigray that have been  looted, and damaged by the invading forces.  

While the incident at the heart of Mr. Beasley’s allegation and facts surrounding it are being  handled with WFP’s local representatives, his regrettably unfortunate choice of words has far reaching ramifications for humanitarian operations across Tigray, exposing millions of Tigrayans  to an elevated risk of additional pain and suffering. The genocidal Abiy regime has already latched  onto Mr. Beasley’s words to discredit humanitarian operations in Tigray. It is our sincere belief  that the WFP in general and Mr. Beasley in particular will see the errors of their ways and refrain  from being unwitting accessories in the Abiy regime’s ongoing strangulation of Tigray. As the  chief architect of Tigray’s indescribable suffering, including through its near-total ban on the entry  of fuel into Tigray, the Abiy regime along with its lackeys has no moral standing to express outrage  at the very crisis they deliberately precipitated.  

It is well known to the WFP that back when Tigray forces were in control of the city of Kombolcha  in South Wollo, the Government of Tigray took it upon itself to provide around-the-clock security  guarding WFP warehouses, preventing certain looting. In fact, that members of Tigray forces,  whose families and their fellow compatriots were being strangled by the Abiy regime, fulfilled  their duty guarding those warehouses is a testament to their discipline and professionalism. As a  people exercising our legitimate right of self-defense, we did not go to neighboring regions to do  what the enemy did to the people of Tigray. In fact, we had an understanding with the WFP to  facilitate aid distribution to local residents, though foot-dragging by the WFP scuttled those efforts.  

As the international community is well-aware, the Abiy regime has laid siege to the people of  Tigray since June 2021. It has suspended all basic services, including banking,  telecommunications, and electricity. Consequently, it has engineered a colossal humanitarian  calamity. As UN Undersecretary-General and humanitarian coordinator Martin Griffiths publicly  noted, the Abiy regime has imposed a “de facto humanitarian blockade.” It has obstructed  humanitarian operations by preventing the entry of food, fuel and medicines as well limiting  operational cash for aid agencies. Even in the aftermath of the cessation of hostilities, which the  Abiy regime violated recently, aid had only been trickling into Tigray, with severe restrictions on  fuel in place, forcing aid agencies to reduce the scale and scope of their activities across Tigray.  

It is against this backdrop that the incident that the WFP characterized as stealing should be  analyzed. A few months ago, when the WFP had difficulty distributing food aid to the needy on  account of fuel shortage, it reached an agreement with the Government of Tigray to borrow some  fuel at the latter’s disposal so that millions of Tigrayans would receive some aid. The  understanding was that the WFP would pay back the fuel in kind, since the Government of Tigray  cannot run hospitals, schools, and other public services without fuel. The Government of Tigray’s  decision to loan the fuel to the WFP, appropriately documented, was driven by its appreciation of  the gravity of the humanitarian catastrophe that the Abiy regime has engineered.  

Nonetheless, the tradeoff involved in exhausting our fuel reserve by loaning over six hundred  thousand liters of fuel to the WFP was that we severely compromised our ability to provide even  limited services to our people. The Abiy regime’s immoral, cruel, and illegal blockade of Tigray  has severely constrained the Government of Tigray’s ability to run basic services. In fact, Ayder  hospital in Mekelle, the region’s flagship hospital, has been forced to suspend operations on  multiple occasions due to shortage of fuel needed to run generators, leading to thousands of  preventable fatalities. Hospitals and health facilities across Tigray are in dire straits, resulting in  thousands of people dying of easily preventable diseases. The genocidal Abiy regime sees the  provisions of basic services in Tigray as a charity to be granted and denied at will depending on  its political interests, not a fundamental right that Tigrayans have as citizens and human beings.  

Unfortunately, the international community continues to let itself be taken for a ride by this  unscrupulous regime without an iota of moral fiber. Rather than pressing the Abiy regime to allow  sufficient fuel into Tigray, the WFP in particular and the UN in general have been coddling it.  Now, having borrowed hundreds of thousands of liters of fuel, the WFP is unilaterally revising the  terms of the deal, essentially arguing that “we did not know the fuel provided was to be paid back  in kind.” But contrary to this protestation, according to a January 13, 2022 situation report by the  UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “food aid will be dispatched from  Mekelle to the affected population with fuel loaned from the local authorities.” It could not get  any clearer than this. 

Most disturbingly, the WFP claims to have made payments to individuals on account of fuel loaned  to it by the Government of Tigray, supposedly for the use of their fuel stations. Accordingly, the  WFP claims to have paid Oil Libya in Kombolcha over half a million Birr and close to 13 million  Birr to another privately-owned fuel station in Mekelle. These payments raise serious questions  about the integrity of the folks based in Addis running the WFP. We urge the UN to take this issue  seriously and conduct a thorough investigation.  

The Government of Tigray cannot be expected to loan the limited fuel it had at its disposal and not  ask to be repaid in kind. That the WFP is backpedaling on this mutual understanding is regrettable.  We hope that they will honor this agreement and set the record straight by retracting the highly  damaging and inflammatory public statements issued by the WFP. Mutual trust that agreements  would be honored is the essential ingredient in any cooperative relationship. And we remain  committed to cooperating with humanitarian partners as they work hard to address the catastrophic  humanitarian crisis raging in Tigray. In this spirit, we are ready to resolve all outstanding issues  in discussion with WFP officials.

In its Situation Report, 13 January 2022, UN OCAH says ““Food aid will be dispatched from Mekelle to the affected population with fuel loaned from the local authorities.””

See also the following supporting evidence.

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  1. Amanuel

    August 26, 2022 at 10:02 am

    David Beasley must resign from his job. He is known to be a close friend of Abiy Ahmed, this is non of my business however WFP is a department to respect the integrity of the work ethics. As a chief director of WFP Beasley should investigate before open his mouth with a lie. I didn’t find work ethics on David Beasley. Immoderately He must resign from WFP.

    • Giorgis Wolde Mariam

      August 26, 2022 at 8:13 pm

      David Beasley is one of those who live on appeasing corrupt governments throughout the world. In the case of Tigray, David has brought the reputation of UN offices down to a drain

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