Fresh controversy over aid to Ethiopia erupted today after an investigation concluded that millions intended for victims of the 1984 famine was diverted to anti-government rebel leaders – including the current Ethiopian Prime Minister.
The allegations, made by former rebel compatriots of Meles Zenawi, are the first to detail how millions raised by Bob Geldof’s Live Aid were siphoned off to arm the rebels against the army of Mengistu Haile Mariam.
Although millions of people were saved by the Western aid that poured into Ethiopia after Live Aid, the evidence from the BBC investigation suggests that not all of it went to the most needy.
With much of Ethiopia in rebel hands, aid agencies had to bring in food and funds for those areas from Sudan, accompanied by rebel fighters.
Aregawi Berhe, the former military commander of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), claimed that of the $100 million that went through the rebels’ hands, 95 per cent was diverted to buy weapons or recruit Ethiopians to their cause. He said the rebels put on a "drama" to get their hands on the relief money. "The aid workers were fooled," he said.