News / Africa

Human Rights Groups: Donor Countries Fuel Abuse in Ethiopia

Selah Hennessy
— Two new reports published this month say sustainable development in Ethiopia is impossible without a specific focus on human rights. The reports say donor countries should bear responsibility for ensuring their aid money is not used to fuel abuse.

Ethiopia receives billions of dollars in international aid every year. It is money that is used to help improve basic services like access to health and education.

But human-rights campaigners say there also is widespread abuse that takes place in Africa’s second most populous country. And they say donors need to face up to what role their aid money might play in fueling that abuse.

Leslie Lefkow, the deputy director for Human Rights Watch's Africa Division, said, “The Ethiopian government is resettling large numbers of pastoralists and semi-pastoralist communities in the name of better services. But often this resettlement process is accompanied by very serious abuses.”

Human rights groups say so-called “villagization” has been marred by violence, including rapes and beatings, and people are often forced to leave their homes against their will. They also say the new villages lack adequate food, farmland, healthcare and education facilities.
 
Lefkow said the World Bank is turning a blind eye. “In Ethiopia you have several years’ worth of rising concerns of human rights and yet you do not really see that being absorbed in the monitoring and in the practice of donors across the spectrum, so not just the World Bank,” she said.

The World Bank is the world’s top aid donor, with a $30 billion annual budget.

Right now the World Bank is undergoing a review of its safeguard policies, a process that began last year.

Human Rights Watch, a New York-based campaign group, says now is the time for it to commit to respecting and protecting human rights.

“Unlike some of the other international financial institutions, the European development bank and the African development bank, for example, is looking at reviewing some of its policies and explicitly committing to human rights, but the World Bank does not have that, even on paper.”

Another group, the U.S.-based Oakland Institute, published a report last week highlighting donor countries’ roles in alleged Ethiopian abuse.

It said Britain and the United States have ignored abuses taking place in the Omo Valley as the government forces tens of thousands of people from their land.
 
Executive Director Anuradha Mittal of the Oakland Institute, an independent policy think tank, says forced evictions are taking place in order to make way for commercial farming and a major new dam. She says money from donor countries supports the new projects.
 
“There is also support for infrastructure projects such as power lines and the rest, which are linked to the large dams that have been built, for instance, the dam in Lower Omo, which has been built to provide irrigation and electricity to the investors,” she said.

The Ethiopian government says sugar plantations in the region and the new dam, which will be Africa’s largest, are key to bringing energy and development to the country. VOA contacted the government for a reaction on the Oakland Institute report, but did not get a response.
 
Britain’s Department for International Development says its assistance in Ethiopia helps millions.

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by: the Jinka man from: South Omo Ethiopia
July 30, 2013 9:53 AM
Perfectly I am a man from Omo valley.
I have gone through the full context of Will Hurd transcript that focused on criticizing Ethiopian development plan in and around Omo valley. The writer tries to indicate the major human rights abuse alleged on the pastoral tribes of south Omo, (on People of rift valley). He also told us that he lived in Musrsi land for eight years and know the dialect and culture of the local people. let it be.
But what he shouted a lot for was on criticizing Ethiopian development plan. For me, his intention is "why Ethiopia and other African countries are developing" He and his institution, Oakland, have to know that Ethiopian cannot attack its own citizens. All pastoralists that he talked about are Ethiopians and their country works for their change and development without ignoring their rights. He has to know that the country aimed to provide social and economic sectors without compromising their rights.
The second think that he focused on is Ethiopian military force. He tried to make their picture like the lion running in the bush to hunt the beef animal. But the truth is behind it. Ethiopian military force took a number of peace missions not only in Africa but worldwide and not criticized by such an act that "rape, Rape... These may be common for "westerns" and merely common for Ethiopians. Therefore, his transcript is focused on his own culture, which is not common in Ethiopia. Not only for their fellow tribes but Ethiopians also care for their animals.
Therefore, it is not possible for me to criticize all the fallacies things in his transcript and everyone may go to the downstream of Omo valley and dig out the truth.


by: wow, from: south Omo
July 30, 2013 4:15 AM
I sent my comment about issue at hand yesterday. but, nut appeared on this page. as I think, you are selecting the comment that match your opinion. sorry...


by: Truth-Teller from: Kenya
July 26, 2013 6:24 PM
It's kind of funny how all the comments made here are ALL THE SAME .... Why is the question of Human Rights - RAPE, GENOCIDE, UNLAWFUL DISPLACEMENT (urban as well as rural population) - answered with "because we've to develop"?!?! .... Is it just a coincidence that all of you are EXCUSING Human Right abuse “for development”??? ...OR, Is this what your Head Propagandist prepared for you????? ... How come no one talk laud the NON- EXISTANT FREE PRESS in Ethiopia – who’s unable to report about Human Rights as it should?? …. Ethiopians don’t even have access to VOA website in Ethiopia – because, the website is blocked in Ethiopia!! … so, those of you who indicated you’re from Addis, you know who you are and let’s leave it at that!! … when Human Rights report about Human Rights abuse in Ethiopia – why’s every GoE propagandist fail to mention that ONLY 0.4% Ethiopians (which is LESS THAN 1%) have internet access ???? … compare that with 40% of Kenyan who’ve internet access!!!! … Is it because the Ethio- Telecom controlled by GoE???.... Is it a secret that Ethiopia have the WORST INTERNET AND MOBILE SERVICE IN AFRICA because – it’s the best means for GoE to REPRESS Ethiopians?!?!? … BTW, internet access , according to UN, is a Human Rights!! … why’s the GoE still controls ETV and Radio?!?! (I know it hurt to talk about DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS – But, we’ve to talk about it whether you like or not)… Do you want a REAL “DEVELOPMENT”??? … Ask your MASTERS (the EPRDF REGIME) to privatize the Telecom, ETV and Commercial Bank AND get out of doing business!!!... FINALLY, STOP TALKING ABOUT DEVELOPMENT – EVERYTIME THE QUESTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IS BROUGHT UP TO THE TABLE!!!... ETHIOPIA IS STILL THE POOREST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD – NO ONE IS JELOUS OR CARES about the poorest country in the WORLD. But, they care about MINORITIES AND DEFENSELESS PART OF THE SOCIETY – and, that is what the Human Rights is doing!!!

In Response

by: Safia from: "Kenya"
July 27, 2013 1:58 PM
"Truth-Teller," your huge gibberish post with multiple all caps and punctuation marks is perfect example of why America's UN Secretary and now U.S. National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, publicly called Ethiopian Diaspora opposition groups, "Fools!"


by: Anonymous
July 26, 2013 4:13 PM
Despite the very tyrant nature of current regime in Ethiopia, its effort in settling the nomadic people cannot be a crime. Is settlement not a first step to benefit from a health care and education services that you talking about? Are you human right champs telling us that what we deserve is to continue living a nomadic life forever?


by: Galol from: Jigjiga
July 26, 2013 10:16 AM
its true that, the western nations are looking after their interests in Ethiopia.they are supporting a regime who unlawfully arrest political opponents and journalists. kill, rape and torture innocent civilians in every part of the country. we know what do In the Ogaden region, where journos and NGOs are illegal to go.

In Response

by: Truth-Teller from: Kenya
July 27, 2013 1:31 AM
@Lee, I'm not guessing that you're GoE propagandist. 'Cause, I know you're. Let me put that out front first. That being said, why's Ogaden people (or, Oromo's people) question to separate from Ethiopia irritates you?!?! .... Aren't you the one who organized Sha'abia's referendum vote in the streets of Addis and other cities in Ethiopia??? ... Isn't you MASTER MELES - who said every ethnic group in Eth. have the right to ask for referendum??? ... aren't you the one who chapped Ethiopia in ethnic lines - so, it's convenient to divide-and-concur??? (I guess it back-fired, now) hahaha... so, why is Eth. ppl aspiration for referendum considered a taboo - when you took over power today??? ... why's anyone who demands for his HUMAN RIGHTS - considered "anti-development"??? ... why don't you address the question of HUMAN RIGHTS by improving the HUMAN RIGHTS - which requires you to release political prisoners and journalist! ... compensate the citizens who're displaced (urban or rural) proportionally, privatize ETV, commercial bank, Telecom and all other gov't run business, and sorts of real reforms!! ... I KNOW THE QUESTION OF HUMAN RIGHT REQUIRES YOU TO GO THROUGH LAUNDRY LIST OF REFORMS - AND, THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT YOU'RE TRYING TO AVOID - BY CALL PEOPLE 'ANTI-DEVELOPMENT'! ... I know you love China... 'cause, nothing is sweet and profitable to imprison your ppl for no reason - and have them work for free in your prison factories - like China!! .... I've got NEWS FLASH for you --- ain't gonna happen!!

In Response

by: Lee from: USA
July 26, 2013 2:05 PM
I can't tell if you are from Ethiopia or just another political hack for so-called human rights organizations from the West. Either, it doesn't matter I suppose, because they are using Ethiopians like you to push their agenda for destabilizing the country. But of course you don't care do you. Your grudge against the government, whether rational or not, is the least of the concern for the West. You Ogaden separatists, I have noticed, recite almost line for line Human Right's Watch. I wouldn't be surprised if you were on their payroll. Don't be so foolish. They don't care if you are from Ogaden, or Nigeria for that matter. All they know you are a black African and you must remain poor to ensure the status quo. They are afraid that with China's partnership with Africans, the Western Liberal agenda is losing its grip on the continent.


by: Mesfin Belayneh from: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
July 25, 2013 4:50 AM
We Ethiopians are the ones who bear all the impact of what you call "human rights abuses" (if any). Why do you cry louder than we? Is it because we do not know our rights for we are blacks? or is it because you feel our pains more than we do? Please leave us alone!


by: Ras Mitat
July 24, 2013 1:16 PM
VOA has become obsolete, more a fundraising mouthpiece for Western liberal "non-profits" (lords of poverty), versus representing aspiration of developing world for economic equality.


by: Deneqew from: canada
July 24, 2013 8:26 AM
The blind monk called MS's Ana Gomez of the EU observer for the 2005 election in Ethiopia is the main colique for this useless trash comment. The human right had been violated by the elite Amahara tribe long a go. Especially, the people of south had been used for their useless politics. I am one of the people who have been abused by crying elite Amaras. I knew the place where you are talking about and I am from there. We don’t have real and constant village where we are settle except our animal feeding grass lands. Who chased us from our grasslands which is not even our property? Leslie Lefkow please stop your stupid racism over our development. If you fight us that way, we will fight our basic enemies by chasing them from our land. The government had nothing to do with our land. OKAY?


by: kuku from: Ethiopia
July 24, 2013 7:30 AM
Dear, it is a matter of choice either to die in poverty for the sake respecting your business " the so called human rights" or develop our resources to lift out millions from poverty. Few would not be displaced if you could tell us the means to lift millions (including those displaced) from poverty.


by: Lee from: USA
July 24, 2013 3:24 AM
These rights watchers (self-proclaimed) including Oakland Institute, have been on a mission to stop Ethiopia, and perhaps other African nations, from developing. I have some sense why this is the case, but I'm not absolutely clear on the motivation behind the agenda. If Ethiopians die from hunger and disease, they send all of their aid workers and cry about how dire a situation it is, and of course ask for donations. But as Ethiopia starts developing and growing their economy, which is the long term solution to poverty, the same hustlers show up out of nowhere telling them, in so many words, they should just accept a meager way of life, because that's the traditional African way.

And they don't need to be corrupted by industry and modernization like we Westerners have, so... you Africans just stay down there at the bottom rung of the ladder, we will provide everything for you. I really think there is a racist agenda behind Oakland Institute, Friends of Lake Turkana, Survival International, and Human Rights Watch. They want blacks to remain poor in Africa, probably to maintain the status quo - a wealthy Europe/West only, and a subservient Africa too preoccupied to resolve internal conflicts, poverty, and disease, ever remain dependent on foreign governments and NGOs. I'm so tired of this. These people are sociopaths.

In Response

by: Mekdes from: Boston
July 24, 2013 11:30 AM
Thank you Lee, I couldn't have said it better. We Ethiopians are sick and tired of hearing these people. We don't want their crocodile tears.

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