The Tigray region, and some parts of Amhara region of Ethiopia, are still under the control of TPLF
The Ethiopian government on Tuesday said it has signed a third-party agreement with the UN agency, United Nations Office for Project Services – UNOPS, to undertake what it calls a “recovery project in Tigray.”
Ahmed Shide, Ethiopia’s Minister for Finance, and Ms. Werknesh Mekonen, UNOPS representative, signed the agreement in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
In a press release, the Ministry of Finance said “The project is part of the government’s national recovery program,” but it is the World Bank that is financing it.
“The project is part of the government’s national recovery program financed by the World Bank with the name Response-Recovery-Resilience for Conflict-Affected Communities in Ethiopia project,” said the press release from the Ministry.
Reconstruction of basic services and “climate-resilient community infrastructure,” and enhancing accessibility “to multi-sectoral response services for Gender-Based Violence (GBV) survivors,” are the key project focus areas, from what the Ministry disclosed.
Work-related to gender-based violence covers “conflict-affected communities in Ethiopia,” which may mean that parts of Afar and Amhara regions of Ethiopia affected by the war could be included in the program although it is not explicitly stated in the press release.
Banking and communication services in the Tigray region of Ethiopia have been disrupted for well over a year now due to the war.
The Ministry also disclosed that UNOPS will work on – based on the agreement and as disclosed by the Ministry of Finance- rebuilding basic services and “climate-resilient community infrastructure.”
The UNOPS is working on the project because the Ethiopian government can not carry out the project due to the hostility and war situation with the TPLF.
Some observers who expressed their views on social media described the arrangement, in what appears to be a satire tone, as “boots on the ground.”
How long will UNOPS be doing that?
“…Until situations in Tigray improve to enable the government to implement the project with its own structure in which case, UNOPS will hand over activities to the government,” as indicated in the press release from the Ministry of Finance.
When the Ministry of Finance tabled a budget proposal last month, it announced that it was prepared with the assumption, among other things, that the war in the northern part of the country would end through negotiation and that reconstruction work would start during the just-started budget year.
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) is not a party to the agreement. It has not yet released an official statement regarding the agreement.
However, its spokesperson, Getachew Reda, is not too happy about it.
In a Twitter message he wrote on Tuesday, he said
“I just don’t understand what this means much less how it’s supposed to work. Crying out for answers!”
In a response to Getachew Reda, Ann Garrison, a journalist, said ” Looks to me like the UN considers the Ethiopian government to be the legitimate government of Tigray Region. ”
The war in Northern Ethiopia broke out in November 2020 when the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) attacked, party officials admitted it during a live Tigray TV show, the northern command of the Ethiopian Defence Force.
When the U.S. government freeze aid funding to Ethiopia in May 2021 in opposition to the Ethiopian government’s response to the TPLF attack, the World Bank was also asked to freeze funding to Ethiopia.
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