[Dehai-WN] Thebureauinvestigates.com: Analysis: Did DFID properly investigate Ethiopian aid allegations?

[Dehai-WN] Thebureauinvestigates.com: Analysis: Did DFID properly investigate Ethiopian aid allegations?

From: Berhane Habtemariam <Berhane.Habtemariam_at_gmx.de_at_dehai.org>
Date: Mon, 26 Sep 2011 22:15:54 +0200

Analysis: Did DFID properly investigate Ethiopian aid allegations?

September 26th, 2011 | by
<http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/author/angus-stickler/> Angus Stickler
| Published in <http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/category/all-stories/>
All Stories, <http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/category/press-updates/>
Views from the Bureau |
investigate-ethiopian-aid-allegations/#comments> 5 Comments

Last month a joint, undercover investigation by the Bureau and Newsnight
revealed sickening human rights abuses and the systematic misuse of aid by
the Ethiopian government.

The response from officials working for Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to the
investigation was as expected: a vitriolic attack on our journalism with
accusations of impartial reporting promoting the views of terrorists.

However, it is the response of the British government that causes more

Last night <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/9597784.stm>
Newsnight aired another piece following several further developments
suggesting a crackdown by the Ethiopian government on opposition members as
well as people believed to have contributed to our report.

Answering the charges
The International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell appeared on the
programme to answer the allegation that DFID has turned a blind eye to these
abuses by continuing to provide millions of pounds in aid to Ethiopia.

Related article:
ercretary-answers-questions-over-ethiopian-aid/> International Development
Secretary answers questions over aid

It started well with the secretary of state saying that the programme aired
serious allegations that need to be answered, and that he would personally
raise them with Prime Minister Zenawi and his officials, pressing for an
open and independent investigation.

It was only when pushed on the issue that he admitted that the department in
fact relies on 'regional implementation'. And this is where his argument
breaks down.

These are grave allegations concerning atrocious human rights abuses and the
systemic misuse of aid - British taxpayers' money - for political purposes.
It doesn't get more serious than this.

It was what followed that smacks of obfuscation.

Mr Mitchell's opening gambit was that no British development support goes
through the Ethiopian government, giving the impression that our aid was in
safe hands.

Related article:
den/> Ethiopia Aid Exposed - Abuse and terror in the Ogaden

It was only when pushed on the issue that he admitted that the department in
fact relies on 'regional implementation'. And this is where his argument
breaks down.

Response from the Department for International Development
'In the past five years, British aid to Ethiopia has helped to halve rates
of malaria, double immunisation rates, put four million children into
primary school and protect almost eight million people from hunger.

'It is entirely wrong to suggest the misuse of taxpayers' money.

'The British Government takes allegations of aid distortion very seriously.
DFID officials in Ethiopia made regular field visits to monitor
implementation of all DFID-funded programmes. These visits looked at all
aspects of implementation, including whether there was any evidence of
distortion. Those field visits - and dozens of similar visits by other
donor agencies - made clear that there was no systemic distortion for
political reasons in the distribution of aid.'

In a virtual one party state there is no distinction between central and
local administrations. They are essentially one and the same: the orders
come down from on high, and all are expected to toe the line.

It was pointed out to Mr Mitchell that the allegations are centred on the
distribution of aid at just such a local level.

But it was his subsequent assertion that was more remarkable.

Mitchell stated that British officials had already investigated similar
allegations on the ground and found no evidence of systemic manipulation of

Desk-based investigations
It was only later that officials confirmed that Mr Mitchell was referring to
a report compiled by British officials for the Development Assistance Group
(DAG) - a consortium of international donors. This was a desk-based study
compiled in Addis Ababa, looking at programme systems and safeguards on
paper. It clearly states that it did not seek to prove or disprove
allegations of distortion.

The report itself also recommended that it should be followed up with a
field investigation.

Related article:
Ethiopia aid exposed - Voices of the tortured

Again these are important issues - not only about the misuse of taxpayers'
money - but horrific allegations of human rights abuses including mass
detentions, extrajudicial killings, torture and rape.

Either Mr Mitchell has been ill-advised or he is playing politics: clouding
the issue over our government's support of a regime seemingly intent on
crushing dissent. The British public deserves better.

Click here to read the Bureau's
investigation in full.

Read the minister's <http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/?p=16397> full
interview here.


      ------------[ Sent via the dehai-wn mailing list by dehai.org]--------------
Received on Mon Sep 26 2011 - 16:15:57 EDT
© Copyright DEHAI-Eritrea OnLine, 2001
All rights reserved