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Former Christian Aid worker: BBC’S Ethiopia allegations are ‘absurd’

Christian Aid humanitarian worker Max Peberdy strongly refutes allegations concerning the alleged misuse of aid agency funds in Tigray during the Ethiopian famine of 1984 – 85.

In a BBC World Service Assignment documentary broadcast today, Gebremedhin Araya, senior member of the TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) alleged that he duped aid workers by filling grain sacks destined for starving people with sand.

It’s alleged that the money misappropriated was then used to purchase weapons.

Peberdy categorically denies being tricked: “We routinely monitored the trucks shipping aid across the border. The claim made by Araya is frankly absurd. I was personally present at dozens of grain purchases and never once saw any sand in any grain bags.'

'The implication that international aid agencies were aware that they had to ‘grease the wheels’ of power in order to get aid through to those in need is utter nonsense and there was absolutely no question of that happening at any of the grain purchases that I attended.

'Christian Aid’s experienced emergency team on the ground imposed stringent assessment criteria and the use of all donated money was carefully monitored through progress reports and rigorous accounting.

'These claims are outrageous and very damaging and there is far more evidence that the money was channelled to where it should have been than there is for these inaccurate allegations.'

Penny Jenden director of Band Aid at the time backs up Peberdy’s statement.

'If this money had been diverted to rebels and not used to buy food you would have had thousands of people lying dead at the side of the road.

The fact that there was no major death toll or mass migration clearly demonstrates that the money was not diverted.'

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For further press information contact Emma Pomfret on 07554 024539 or epomfret@christian-aid.org or Sarah Wilson on 07930 341 525 or swilson@christian-aid.org


Notes To Editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in nearly 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the life they deserve.

2. Christian Aid has a vision – an end to poverty.  Our new drive, Poverty Over, explains what we believe needs to be done – and can be done – to make that vision a reality.  Details at www.christianaid.org.uk

3. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire