Ethiopia: The Threat from within


International aid and government funding have been misused for political gains rather than investing in social and economic rights. Corruption is reflected by the government policies which influences distribution of funding towards investments which benefit government politicians. These funds are taken away from areas of desperate need such as healthcare, food and agricultural resources.1

Human Rights Watch discovered inequalities in developmental projects and policies in Ethiopia. The government in Ethiopia has utilized donor-supported programs, training opportunities and salaries to control the population, punish those who dissent and suppress political opponents.1 Opposing party members are denied access to fertilisers, seeds, food aid, agricultural land and other resources for development because of conflicting political opinions. However, if these members write a letter of regret to the administration for siding with the opposing political party, local officials offer them food and money.   Discrimination is widespread in Ethiopia. People are excluded from development programs just because of their religion, gender, ethnic backgrounds and disability.1

Human Rights Watch research also shows that people in the Gambella region of Ethiopia are forced to move away from their existing homes to new model villages where they were promised to have improved infrastructure and better services. Sometimes the government orders soldiers to beat and abuse people who are opposed to moving away from their homes. Government pledges are not fulfilled as the relocated populations face hunger and starvation despite being promised food and agricultural assistance.1 There are serious human rights abuses against indigenous peoples and other ethnic minorities under the government’s “villagisation” program.

The Ethiopian government sold these areas of land to India for cheap farm lands.

Moreover, the Ethiopian government has failed to consult and compensate Indigenous groups for alternative means of livelihoods when they are forced to relocate. For the purposes of this ‘villagisation’ program there has been the creation of 245,000 hectares of state-run sugar plantations along the Omo River.1 Intimidation and assaults are forced upon these people who questioned and opposed to relocation plans.

Future commitment by the international community should be to protect the peoples rights and prevent violations of these rights. There is a need to recognise specific rights of Indigenous people and their right to ancestral lands.1 Education, healthcare, water and sanitation and other socio-economic rights should be considered for Indigenous people.1

Human Rights Watch raises awareness by posting online websites and urged international donors to ensure that they are not providing support for forced displacement or facilitating rights violations in the name of development.2

Cultural Survival increases awareness through a campaign known as Global Response Campaign Alert Ethiopia. Volunteers can post polite letters to governments of the United Kingdom and the United States to express concern of the Ethiopian government violating human rights through villagisation program. They can also urge UK and USA not to fund for villagisation schemes that violate human rights.3 Letters should encourage USA and UK should use their influence as donor nations to demand Ethiopia to reinforce its own constitution and laws to protect Indigenous people’s rights to their ancestral lands.3


1.  Human Right Watch (USA). Discrimination, Inequality, and Poverty A Human Rights Perspective [Internet].  United States of America: Human Right Watch (USA); 2008 [updated 2013 Jan 12; cited 2014 Mar 10]. Available from:

2.  Global Development. Thousands ‘forcibly relocated’in Ethiopia, says HRW report [Internet]. Global Development; 2012 [updated 2012 Jan 7; cited 2014 Mar 29]. Available from:

3.  Cultural survival (UN). Global Response Campaign Alert Ethiopia [Internet]. United Nations: Cultural Survival (UN); 2012 [cited 2014 Apr 13]. Available from:



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