Ethiopia’s government said it won’t cooperate with a probe into whether the World Bank violated its own policies by funding a program in which thousands of people were allegedly relocated to make way for agriculture investors.
Ethnic Anuak people in Ethiopia’s southwestern Gambella region and rights groups including Human Rights Watch last year accused the Washington-based lender of funding a program overseen by soldiers to forcibly resettle 45,000 households. The Inspection Panel of the World Bank, an independent complaints mechanism, began an investigation in October into the allegations, which donors and the government have denied
“We are not going to cooperate with the Inspection Panel,” Getachew Reda, a spokesman for Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, said in a phone interview on May 22. “To an extent that there’s a need for cooperation, it’s not going to be with the Inspection Panel, but with the World Bank”
Ethiopia, Africa’s most-populous nation after Nigeria, has made 3.3 million hectares (8.2 million acres) of land available to agriculture companies. Investors include Karuturi Global Ltd. (KARG) of India, the world’s largest rose grower, and companies owned by Saudi billionaire Mohamed al-Amoudi.
There is a “plausible link” between the Promoting Basic Services program, partly funded by the bank to pay the salaries of local government workers, and a resettlement process also known as villagization in Gambella, the panel said in a Nov. 19 report obtained by Bloomberg News. The World Bank confirmed the authenticity of the report.