British support for Ethiopia scheme withdrawn amid abuse allegations

Department for International Development will no longer back $4.9bn project that critics claim has funded a brutal resettlement programme

An Anuak woman at work in Abobo, a village in Ethiopia’s Gambella region. It has been claimed that UK money has funded abuses against Anuak people in the area. Photograph: Alamy
An Anuak woman at work in Abobo, a village in Ethiopia’s Gambella region. It has been claimed that UK money has funded abuses against Anuak people in the area. Photograph: Alamy

The UK has ended its financial support for a controversial development project alleged to have helped the Ethiopian government fund a brutal resettlement programme. Hundreds of people have been forced from their land as a result of the scheme, while there have also been reports of torture, rape and beatings.

Until last month, Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) was the primary funder of the promotion of basic services (PBS) programme, a $4.9bn (£3.2bn) project run by the World Bank and designed to boost education, health and water services in Ethiopia.

On Thursday, DfID said it had ended its PBS contributions because of Ethiopia’s “growing success”, adding that financial decisions of this nature were routinely made after considering a recipient country’s “commitment to partnership principles”.

It has been alleged that programme funds have been used to bankroll the Ethiopian government’s push to move 1.5 million rural families from their land to new “model” villages across the country.

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