EU postpones USD109M aid to Ethiopia over Tigray

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The European Union (EU) has postponed EUR90 million (USD109 million) in budgetary support to Ethiopia over lack of access to the country’s Tigray region to deliver humanitarian aid amid the conflict.

The delay in the funding, which was supposed to be paid at the end of the year, was confirmed to The Associated Press (AP) on Wednesday by a top EU diplomat in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

“A EUR90 million budget support disbursement that was supposed to be made at the end of this year has been postponed,” EU Head of Delegation to Ethiopia and Ambassador Johan Borgstam, said in a phone interview. He added that other EU aid programmes will continue.

“The reason for the decision to postpone the budget support disbursements is that the EU first wants to see granting of full humanitarian access to Tigray for relief actors so that people in need can be reached and there is an end to ethnic-based targetting,” he said.

The EU also seeks the government’s assurance that civilians who want to seek refuge in neighbouring countries are allowed to do so and that mechanisms are put in place to investigate allegations of human rights violations, he said.

“Furthermore, it’s important for the media to have access and the restoration of all communications in Tigray, a process that we know has already been started by the government. This will be crucial to understand the needs on the ground,” he said.

The EU is one of Ethiopia’s largest donors, allocating EUR1.2 billion (USD1.4 billion) for development cooperation with Ethiopia from 2014 through 2020, of which EUR500 million (USD608 million) has been in direct support to the budget.

Ethiopian officials have not yet responded to the EU’s announcement of  the postponement.

Ethiopia’s federal government started taking military measures against the Tigray region’s leadership after it said its forces based in the region sustained “inhumane attacks” in early November.

People who fled the conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia gather their belongings after their arrival from Village 8 in Qadarif, eastern Sudan. PHOTO: AP