US aid pause to Ethiopia no longer linked to dam dispute

NAIROBI, KENYA (AP) — The United States (US) said it has decided to “de-link” its suspension of millions of dollars of aid to Ethiopia from that country’s dispute with Egypt over a massive hydroelectric dam project.

But the State Department early Friday said that does not mean all the roughly USD272 million in security and development assistance will immediately start to flow, and it depends on more recent “developments” — an apparent reference to the deadly conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

The State Department said humanitarian assistance remains exempt from the aid suspension. It said it has informed Ethiopia’s government.

A spokeswoman for Ethiopian Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Ethiopians were furious after former US president Donald Trump last year directed the suspension of aid to their country in a rare example of his direct involvement in an African issue. Ethiopia had left a US-led attempt to mediate the dispute with Egypt, alleging bias.

The US State Department said the pause on aid “has affected approximately USD23 million in security assistance, as well as roughly USD249 million in development assistance, which includes health, education, economic growth and democracy programmes”.

Ethiopia is now under pressure from the US and others including the European Union and United Nations over the deadly fighting in its northern Tigray region.