Ethiopia’s pursuit of international aid and investment faces hurdles as donors and investors demand guarantees for peace and stability, warns United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU).
The country’s demobilization project and humanitarian sector are particularly at risk of financial shortfall unless ongoing conflicts are peacefully resolved by the Ethiopian government.
During a discussion session on October 12, 2023, at the German embassy, representatives from the UN Development Program (UNDP) and the German embassy emphasized that Ethiopia is missing out on post-conflict resource mobilization due to the persistent conflicts in various regions of the country.
Securing funds for Ethiopia’s Demobilization, Disarmament, and Reintegration (DDR) program remains challenging, as donors and investors remain uncertain about the situation in Ethiopia.
The DDR program aims to reintegrate 371,000 ex-combatants into civilian life, making it the largest case-load in the world currently. The Ethiopian government is also striving to mobilize resources for the National Dialogue Commission (ENDC) and transitional justice initiatives.
Turhan Saleh, the resident representative of the UNDP, said: “There are numerous crises around the world, and Ethiopia is competing for limited resources. We are advocating for Ethiopia, but donors and investors pose a critical question: ‘Will we have peace and stability in Ethiopia?’ They ask for a guarantee that if they invest today, will there be peace and stability. Then we can consider investing in Ethiopia. At least give us some confidence.”
While the UNDP advocates for mobilizing funds from donors and investors for Ethiopia’s post-war initiatives, it emphasizes that Ethiopia must demonstrate its commitment to peace and stability.
“It is difficult to build a bridge that will be destroyed tomorrow by conflict,” asserted Stephan Auer, the ambassador of Germany, during the discussion. “If you do not ensure peace and stability, along with accountability and transitional justice, it will be challenging to have a future. We also want to see Ethiopia become a regional stabilizer.”
Transparency in the system is another prerequisite requested by donors and investors to ensure that funds reach the intended beneficiaries, specifically the ex-combatants.
“We want to ensure that every penny we invest in Ethiopia is well-spent to assist those in need. Aid diversion is also a concern for us. Ethiopia requires substantial humanitarian aid, but an established system must be in place to prevent aid diversion,” added Stephan.
Turhan, on his part, suggested the establishment of a third-party system that includes auditors and evaluators to ensure that DDR funds are allocated to the rightful ex-combatants.
“We really hope for the success of the national dialogue and DDR. For transitional justice, there must be no impunity,” Turhan stated.