Ethiopia Gets €650m EU Aid After Tigray War Ends Africa

by Victor Adetimilehin

The European Union (EU) has announced a new aid package worth €650 million to Ethiopia, the first since it suspended direct support to the country in 2020 over human rights violations in the Tigray region.

The EU commissioner for international partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said the aid was a sign of gradual normalisation of relations and rebuilding of a mutually reinforcing partnership with Ethiopia, after a ceasefire ended the war last November.

The aid package was initially worth €1 billion and was due to be given to Ethiopia from 2021 to 2027, but it was withheld after fighting broke out between federal forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in late 2020.

The US also halted assistance and imposed sanctions on Ethiopia over the conflict, which killed thousands of people and displaced millions more.

Ethiopian Finance Minister Ahmed Side said the aid would help boost Ethiopia’s post-war recovery and facilitate badly needed economic reforms at a “critical juncture” for the country.

“This strategic partnership is now back on track,” he said.

However, direct budgetary support to Ethiopia’s government remains suspended and will not be restored until “very clear political conditions” are met, Urpilainen said without specifying.

She added that a programme from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was also needed first. Ethiopia is currently negotiating with the Washington-based lender seeking support for the country’s economic reforms.

Urpilainen also held meetings with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairman of the African Union Commission.

The EU has long insisted it would not normalise relations with Ethiopia until there was accountability for the atrocities committed in the Tigray war, which were characterised by massacres, mass rape and allegations of enforced starvation.

Ethiopia has tried to block a UN probe from investigating the abuses and has launched its own transitional justice process, which human rights experts say is flawed.

The UN probe has said all sides committed abuses, some amounting to war crimes.

The EU’s aid pledge to Ethiopia came a day before the deadline for renewing the mandate for the investigation at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

On Tuesday, the UN experts warned that more independent investigations into Ethiopia’s “dire human rights situation” were needed due to the “overwhelming risk of future atrocities.”

“There is a very real and imminent risk that the situation will deteriorate further, and it is incumbent upon the international community to ensure that investigations persist so human rights violations can be addressed, and the worst tragedies averted,” said Steven Ratner, one of the UN experts.

The EU supports the implementation of the peace deal “through the national dialogue, as well as also accountability and transitional justice”, Urpilainen said.

The EU’s aid package is part of its multi-annual indicative programme (MIP), which defines priority areas of cooperation between the EU and its partners, including financial allocations. The MIP should have been concluded in 2021 but was suspended due to the Tigray conflict.

Ethiopia is one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies and a key regional ally for the EU in tackling migration and security challenges.

The EU hopes that its new aid package will help Ethiopia overcome its challenges and achieve lasting peace and stability.

Source: Africa News

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