Ethiopia calls for foreign aid to rehabilitate Tigray region

Ethiopian soldiers rest at the 5th Battalion of the Northern Command of the Ethiopian Army in Dansha on November 25, 2020. Eduardo Soteras | AFP

What you need to know:

  • Ethiopia’s envoy to Tanzania says his country needs international support to rebuild the Tigray Region - and calls upon the global community to help resolve its border dispute with Sudan

Dar es Salaam. Ethiopia yesterday called for support from the international community in rehabilitating infrastructure in the northern region of Tigray which was severely devastated by military action starting last November.

The country also wants the international community to intervene and help to resolve its River Nile dispute with Sudan and Egypt over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project, and find a lasting solution on its border dispute with neighbouring Sudan.

The Ethiopian ambassador to Tanzania, Yonas Sanbe, told a press conference yesterday that his government was striving to rebuild the region following massive damage of roads, bridges, power and telecommunications infrastructure, as well as restore financial services.

“The Federal government’s capacity is to rehabilitate 70 percent of the damage. Therefore, we call for 30 percent support from the international community,” he told journalists in Dar es Salaam.

Mr Sanbe said while the government was consulting stakeholders for dialogue aimed at sustainable peace and security, the Ethiopia Human Rights Commission (EHRC) will probe incidents of human rights abuse and bring perpetrators to justice.

“The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the UN Commission on Human Rights are also welcome to investigate the allegations,” said Mr Sanbe - adding that the government promises full support.

The envoy also said that the situation in the region has stabilized and that domestic and international media were welcome to visit the area and assess the situation. He blamed some international media that have been filing propaganda reports contrary to the actual situation on the ground.

Speaking on the GERD project, he said Ethiopia’s 110 million population is entitled to the River Nile waters, as over 80 percent of the river is in Ethiopia. Being landlocked with inadequate sources of underground water, Ethiopia believes that internationally-accepted laws and regulations, as well as the requirement for equitable and reasonable utilization of resources, should be the principles guiding sharing of the Nile river waters.

“At least 65 million Ethiopians have no access to electricity, compared to Egyptians who enjoy abundant power supply. Therefore, the GERD project aims to address the country’s social, economic and environmental challenges, thus bringing about sustainable socioeconomic development,” the envoy defended the project on the Nile, the world’s longest river.

Mr Sanbe further said that GERD was implemented using contributions of individual citizens after the country failed to access funds from its development partners.

“However, the dam will also benefit Egypt and Sudan by regulating the water flow, enhancing water management for irrigation and other uses, allowing water savings and preventing losses, reducing impacts of climate change, strengthening regional integration and creating confidence and trust among Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia,” he said.

Water from the dam isn’t consumed as other countries including Egypt and Sudan continue using power generation, something that is being rejected by its neighbours. “Egypt and Sudan have rejected recognizing the role of the African Union delegation in resolving the dispute between the three countries and, instead, they want an invitation to be extended to mediators from other countries which would undermines the AU,” he said.

Furthermore, he said his country will carry out the second phase of filling water to the dam during the rainy season, noting that it will facilitate exchange and sharing of data before the process, calling on the international community to support the AU led and the three countries in reaching an amicable agreement on the issue.

Regarding border dispute with Sudan, he said recently Sudan defence forces launched security encroachment after crossing the border despite on-going re-demarcation job undertaken by a special commission.

He said Ethiopia will continue respecting the 1972 agreement to peacefully settle disputes with its neighbours.

“The international community should help in reversing Sudan’s military forces as Ethiopia has no intention to enter into war with its neighbours,” he said.

Meanwhile, he said after undertaking major reforms the country’s National Electoral Board declared to hold its general election in June, this year, promising that it will be fair, transparent and credible.