By The Telegraph,
Is Ethiopia’s government, whose security forces are guilty of rape and torture, a worthy recipient of £329 million of British taxpayers’ money?
Almost 30 years ago, Band Aid mobilised a generation of British teenagers behind the campaign to help Ethiopia recover from famine. Today, Ethiopia is the second-biggest beneficiary of British aid, receiving no less than £329 million last year. And yet the same government that is favoured by this largesse has also carried out appalling atrocities.
This week, Amnesty International detailed how Ethiopia’s security forces are guilty of rape and torture as they struggle against separatist rebels.
Meanwhile, Hailemariam Desalegn, the prime minister, is untroubled by criticism in the local press or any public opposition, for the simple reason that both are effectively banned.
The Department for International Development’s plan for Ethiopia shamelessly notes the country’s “progress toward establishing a functioning democracy”, but adds: “There is still a long way to go”. Indeed. A very long way to go.
The question is whether such a government is a worthy recipient of British taxpayers’ money.
Our aid does not go to Ethiopia’s security forces, of course, nor to the secret police who create such fear. Yet British funding for schools and hospitals could release resources for Mr Hailemariam to spend on repression.
Foreign aid will always give recipient governments more discretion over what to do with their own money.
DfID would say that British aid is, for example, helping almost two million Ethiopian children to go to school – and that is a fair point. But DfID’s budget jumped by 32 per cent between 2012 and 2013 – the biggest percentage increase ever enjoyed by any Whitehall department in peacetime history.
DfID has failed to allay the suspicion that its officials are more concerned with spending this money than guarding against possible unintended consequences. Sadly, that risk is greater in Ethiopia than almost anywhere else.
The British government continue to hand out billions of Euros in ‘humanitarian’ and ‘economic’ aid to the Ethiopian regime each year, turning a blind eye to the fact that their handouts are propping up a repressive dictatorship, writes Prof. Al Mariam.
The helping hand that feeds Ethiopians is the same hand that helps bleed Ethiopia. Every year, the US, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, Japan and other Western countries hand out billions of dollars in ‘humanitarian’ and ‘economic’ aid to a minority regime in Ethiopia. Every year, these donors turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the notorious fact that their handouts are used to prop up and fortify a repressive one-party totalitarian dictatorship. Today, Western donors have collectively embraced the proverbial principle to ‘see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil’ of what their ‘aid’ money is doing in Ethiopia.
The UK, as a principal donor to Ethiopian regime refuses to accept any responsibility for the misuse and abuse of its aid money in Ethiopia.
The silent conspiracy between the Western donors and the Ethiopian regime operates on a couple of simple premises. The Western donors in their chauvinistic view believe there are two social classes in Ethiopia. One class consists of the large masses of poor, impoverished, illiterate, malnourished and expendable masses who will not amount to much. The other class consists of the tiny class of elites who maintain a lavish life style for themselves and lord over the masses by manipulating the billions given to them to strengthen their chokehold on the political structure and process. The silent conspiracy is sustained by mutuality of interests.
Time for Western donors including the UK to redeem themselves in the eyes of the Ethiopian people.