No monies from the EU’s flagship Emergency Trust Fund (ETF) for Africa goes to the Ethiopian government or its agencies, the Commission stressed yesterday (6 September), as human rights groups say more than 400 people have been killed in clashes with the government. The ETF was set up last year, at the Valleta migration summit, in an attempt to mitigate the ‘pull’ factors behind uncontrolled migration from sub-Saharan Africa to Europe, in the wake of the migration crisis. Ethiopia, with a stable and West-friendly government in the Horn of Africa, is one of the major recipients of the trust fund, which aims to improve life chances and livelihoods in some of the world’s poorest countries.
However, the authoritarian government in Addis Ababa has long been the butt of accusations over its treatment of the Oromia people and their region – which surrounds the capital. Since November 2015 – when Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker signed the ETF – some 400 people have been killed by Ethiopian government security forces during protests, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch.
This week, the situation deteriorated further, with the deaths of at least 23 inmates in a fire at a prison believed to be holding detained protestors. Pictures showed smoke billowing from the jail, but the BBC cited local media reporting the sound of gunfire from the Qilinto prison. Pressed by EurActiv.com on whether the Commission had a view on the unrest in one of its key partners in sub-Saharan Africa, and whether the ETF contained a mechanism for either reviewing or even suspending payments through the Emergency Trust Fund, a spokesman was quick to point out that no monies were channelled directly through the government in Addis Ababa, or any government agencies. In an emailed statement later, it added, “As far as the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa is concerned, it is important to know that no funding are decentralised to, or channelled through, the beneficiary countries’ government structures.