A British development analyst says Britain’s suspension of budget assistance is a blow to the Ethiopian government, which he says is “very heavily dependent on foreign aid.” Simon Maxwell of Britain’s leading independent think tank, the Overseas Development Institute, told English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje he also finds the British action ironic – given the past closeness of Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Ethiopian counterpart, Meles Zenawi. Mr. Maxwell noted Mr. Blair’s Africa Commission, of which Prime Minister Meles was a part, has now completed its work and disbanded.
Mr. Maxwell says the British announcement was not surprising and that it “has been brewing for a long time.” He said, “It’s in line with an official letter the British Ambassador issued last November on behalf of all the European Union member countries and the United States.” Mr. Maxwell said, “It is very difficult for western donors to maintain their aid policies when human rights abuses are on the scale that they appear to be in Ethiopia.”
The development analyst describes Ethiopia is “one of the poorest countries in the world.” He expresses hope that the aid cuts would not end up hurting those who need assistance the most. Mr. Maxwell says the challenge facing Britain and other donors remains how best to balance key competing needs: helping millions of needy people, and ensuring that humanitarian assistance doesn’t contribute to official corruption and human rights abuse.