ethiopia resettlement

The World Bank has come under the spotlight after allegedly funding systematic civil rights abuses across Africa.

A multi-billion dollar “aid” program financed by the World Bank, the European Commission and other Western governments has been at the centre of a legal challenge by Ethiopian residents following allegations of forced evictions and torture.

The Promotion of Basic Services (PBS) aid program claims that it is helping people in African countries by improving access to services in education, health, agriculture, water supplies, sanitation and rural roads.

However, according to Inclusive Development International (IDI), who are helping villagers in Ethiopia to launch their legal challenge, the program is contributing to a government campaign to forcibly resettle an estimated 1.5 million people.

Residents have complained that they were forced to move onto infertile land, with no schools, wells, clinics or other services.

Many farmers also allege that they were forced to abandon their crops just before harvest, left to starve and not given any food assistance during the move.

According to a report by IDI, in the lowland region of Gambella, Ethiopia, the government’s main method of delivering basic services is through the implementation of the “Villagization Program”. The government claims that “villagization” is a voluntary process, which aims to “bring socioeconomic and cultural transformation of the people” through the resettlement of “scattered” families into new villages.

But villagers have reported that the process has been anything but voluntary.

Many families as a result have through no choice of their own, become refugees in Sudan after facing intimidation, beatings, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture in military custody and extra-judicial killing.

It is also claimed that the land they have been forced to leave has been taken by domestic and foreign investors for large-scale agro-industrial plantations.

David Pred, co-founder of IDI spoke of his experiences of visiting some of the indigenous peoples who had been displaced.

In a statement published on the IDI website, he said: “In September, Human Rights Watch and my organisation, Inclusive Development International, arranged a meeting with the World Bank and five newly arrived refugees in Nairobi.

“One by one, they gave chilling testimonies of the abuses that they and their families have experienced under the Villagization Program. Their testimony corroborated detailed reports about the program by Human Rights Watch and the Oakland Institute.”

Mr Pred called upon the Bank to acknowledge its responsibility for their role in funding the abuses, which they have continuously denied.

He called upon Donors to the aid program to halt the catalogue of abuses that have blighted the lives of villagers in the country.

My Pred added: “The Bank also insists that its project is not linked to the Villagization Program, despite its acknowledgement that it finances the salaries of public servants who are tasked with implementing villagization. These arguments are wholly disingenuous.

“The Bank and bilateral donors have instead chosen a strategy of denial. They have invested too much for too long in Ethiopia to admit that things have gone horribly wrong, and they are too worried about upsetting a critical military ally in a volatile part of the world to start attaching human rights conditions to aid packages.”

There are many who argue that foreign aid is necessary to help African countries to prevent starvation and famine. But according to Dambisa Moyo, the author of the New York bestselling book Dead Aid, it does precisely the opposite.

Moyo was born in Africa and has a PhD in Economics from Oxford University. She says that despite the trillions of dollars the world has given Africa, it is still the poorest continent on the planet and poverty and disease there has more than tripled since the aid progam got underway in the 1960’s.

She claims that the money is instead ending up in the hands of corrupt African politicians, criminals, and individuals whose aim is to prevent Africa from becoming prosperous and added that strict government regulations on African businesses have added to their burden and prevented them from thriving.

It is also true that many of the tinpot dictators and so-called leaders in Africa which were installed there via a British military coup have established government monopolies, price controls, high taxes and nationalised foreign investment.
As a result, African nations have seen huge losses in economic activity, investment, a deteriorating infrastructure, and declining economic competitiveness with other developing regions.

So what’s the answer? Organisations such as Kiva, Untu, CHINANSI (Centre for Human rights and Institute for National Social Initiatives) and Youth Alive, helps to put money and resources directly into the hands of African people and comes up with a wide range of initiatives to help both businesses and individuals thrive.

Take Kiva for example. Kiva is an organisation which lets ordinary people give small loans over the internet to people in African, who are then able to start their own businesses. You can give a loan as small as $25 and as much as $1000, which is enough money to start a business in the continent.
Not only are Africans able to start their own businesses with these small loans, but they are often able to live comfortably and support their entire families and in some cases even their whole village. Kiva also have a 99 per cent repayment rate.

But the truth is, this is just one of the hundreds of grassroots and little known NGOs and charities that exist to help the ordinary man and woman in Africa, without imposing unsavoury terms and conditions in return for the money or help.

For a more comprehensive list visit

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