Western governments were slow to respond to this humanitarian crisis, but a global charity campaign led by the rock singer Bob Geldof’s Band Aid concerts and albums raised more than $100 million for relief organizations like Christian Aid and Oxfam. Because Tigray was under assault, these organizations established bases in neighboring Sudan. They handed food shipments over to the TPLF, which was supposed to deliver them to starving peasants in Tigray. However, it now appears that the TPLF may also have been using some of the aid to feed its soldiers and purchase weapons. In a March 2010 BBC report, a former TPLF fighter described masquerading as a Sudanese merchant and selling bags of “grain”—many containing only sand—to the aid workers, who then passed the sacks on to other TPLF cadres, who returned them to the “Sudanese traders,” who resold them to the aid workers, and so on. In this way, bags of grain/sand circulated back and forth across the border, as money poured into TPLF coffers. The CIA apparently knew about the scam.
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