The BBC report claimed that 95 per cent of the $100m aid raised for famine in northern Ethiopia in 1985 was diverted by rebels to buy weapons.
The claims have been met with anger from Oxfam, Unicef and the Red Cross. Sir Bob Geldof, singer and activist, also criticised the programme's claims.
The BBC World Service's Africa editor, Martin Plaut, alleged that rebels in the Tigray Province tricked aid workers into giving them the money which was meant to buy food for the starving.
The programme showed two former members of the Tigryan People's Liberation Front, Aregawi Berhe and Gebremedhin Araya, saying the group had relied on the aid money to fund its campaign against the then ruling military junta.