Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A former aid worker says the truth lies somewhere in between

Nicholas Winer, former director of Oxfam in Sudan and Ethiopia writes that the truth in the controversy about the BBC report of the diversion of food aid to buy arms in the 80s lies somewhere between the assertions of Geldof/current-TPLF and BBC/ex-TPLF:
The recent angry response to the BBC by aging colleagues that every effort was made to build checks and balances into the purchase and distribution process speaks volumes about their real anxiety that many things could've gone wrong. They wanted to be sure that if food or money did go astray, it wouldn't be because they'd been negligent. On that basis -- and the detailed explanations of Paul Vallely -- the more extreme claims made by the BBC must be discounted. But for the very same reason, so too must any outright denial that anything did go astray.
He also suggests that the Eritrean rebels may have benefited the most from the diversion of aid money:
It was always evident that greater access, and thus greater accountability, was more possible with the structures established by the Tigrayeans than with those of the Eritreans. That this was so is still reflected in the different political realities of the two countries. So, I ask myself if the story even has the right focus. What happened to aid to the Eritrean rebels, where accountability was much harder to establish? What of the tales of an underground TPLF political prison in Gondar, to which no aid worker was ever granted access? No surprise there. This wasn't just famine, but a nasty and brutal war zone. To suggest that the TPLF never pulled a fast one and took their share would be a very foolish and naive assertion.
I think the integrity of current and future aid requires that all concerned people should demand a full accounting of all the aid money that has gone to Ethiopia in the last 25 years.

No comments: