Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Human Rights Watch accuses Ethiopia of distributing aid unfairly

Human Rights Watch says that the ruling party in Ethiopia's government only gives aid to citizens who are members of the same party. People who are members of different political parties are often denied food aid, agriculture input help and government micro-loans.

Human Rights Watch is warning other governments or NGOs who might send money to Ethiopia to make sure that the money is disbursed equitably. Ethiopia of course denies the unequal aid, but the UK government also denies the claims made by Human Rights Watch.

From the BBC, we learn more details about the HRW report.

"We visited 53 villages in 26 districts in three regions of Ethiopia and we talked to about 200 people," Human Rights Watch researcher Ben Rawlence told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

"We found systematic discrimination from one end of the country to another against people who were members of the opposition party or people who disagreed with the regime."

Villagers, who are often subsistence farmers, were rejected for micro-credit loans, seeds, fertiliser, food aid, housing if they were a member of an opposition party, he said.

"University places are conditional on ruling party membership, promotion in the civil service - if you're a teacher or a nurse or a bureaucrat in a government ministry - all of these things are conditional on loyalty," Mr Rawlence said.

"People are being asked to disassociate themselves from political parties - rescind comments they've made and write out letters of regret - in order to obtain food aid."

Efforts to confirm the stories of discrimination with regional officials, civil society, opposition leaders and journalists revealed that this was how things commonly operated, he said.

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