The World Bank and IMF Should Take Immediate Punitive Action Against the Ethiopian Regime Responsible for the Tigray Genocide

The World Bank and IMF Should Take Immediate Punitive Action Against the Ethiopian Regime Responsible for the Tigray Genocide

 International financial institutions should take immediate punitive action against the Ethiopian government, who continues to commit heinous war crimes in the country’s northernmost region of Tigray.

Despite compelling evidence from human rights organizations and news outlets that Ethiopian government forces are carrying out a genocide in Tigray, international financial institutions continue to send hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Ethiopian government that more likely than not is being used to finance this genocide. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has already admitted that Ethiopia has spent 100 billion birr (2.3 billion USD), nearly 20% of the annual budget, to wage war against its own people. The atrocious actions of the Ethiopian government are horrifying and must be stopped.

“Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has already admitted that Ethiopia has spent 100 billion birr (2.3 billion USD), nearly 20% of the annual budget, to wage war against its own people.” #TigrayGenocide #TigrayCantWait

The international community and financial institutions should follow the United States’ lead and impose economic and security sanctions and cut funding to the Ethiopian government until it rights its wrongs in Tigray. A troubling double standard must be recognized here. The U.S. and the international community are rightly outraged by the wrongdoing carried out by the regime in Myanmar, prompting widespread condemnation, sanctions, implementation of financial monitoring systems, and a halt to aid. Yet eight months of human rights abuses in Tigray have inexplicably failed to trigger any semblance of a tough response from the international community.

Since November 2020, Abiy’s “law enforcement operation” in Tigray has been a direct attack on Tigrayan civilians in order to completely eliminate the population. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken classified the human rights abuses in Tigray, which include targeted civilian killings, sexual and gender-based violence, and weaponized starvation, as acts of ethnic cleansing.

As the Ethiopian government bleeds Tigray dry, the World Bank made the decision to supply the government with more money for services that are not reaching those suffering in Tigray. The region’s factories, farms, and healthcare infrastructure have been systematically looted and demolished by Ethiopian and Eritrean forces as well as Amhara militias. Tigray’s economy and food system have been destroyed, yet the World Bank seems to believe that the Ethiopian government will use this funding to help the same civilians they are actively killing.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also turned a blind eye to the atrocities being committed in Tigray and plans to issue $650 billion in aid to countries through a new Special Drawing Rights (SDR) which has the ability to raise Ethiopian reserves by more than 10%. In addition, the IMF welcomed Ethiopia’s request to join the G20 Common Framework for debt relief which has been criticized for lacking transparency and accountability. These policies by the IMF are irresponsible and make it easy for the Ethiopian government to use debt relief and funding to help underwrite a genocide. 

“The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also turned a blind eye to the atrocities being committed in Tigray and plans to issue $650 billion in aid to countries through a new Special Drawing Rights (SDR).” #TigrayGenocide #TigrayCantWait

Abiy has driven Ethiopia into economic shambles with this war and is desperately trying to find money to fund this genocide. His desperate hunt for financial assistance comes days after the Ethiopian government declared a unilateral ceasefire in Tigray following the Tigray Defense Forces’ (TDF) military victories in several areas of Tigray. However, since declaring this ceasefire, Abiy has shown the world that he will not give up until all of Tigray is destroyed.

Eritrean and Amhara forces still remain in the region, committing unimaginable war crimes and crimes against humanity. Aid is still being prevented from reaching parts of Tigray as 900,000 people are currently facing famine conditions. Roads to Tigray have been blocked, and Amhara forces are threatening to illegally claim Western Tigray by any means necessary. Further, Tigrayans are being detained or arrested throughout Ethiopia. This ceasefire is illegitimate and is nothing short of a siege on Tigray as Abiy prepares to attack again. 

In addition to continuing to commit crimes against humanity in Tigray, Abiy is preparing financially to continue fighting in Tigray. The Ethiopian parliament has approved a 561.7 billion birr ($12.9 billion USD) budget for the 2021/22 year which is an 18% increase in spending. Not only has he asked parliament for money, but the Addis Ababa (FinFinne) government donated 500 million birr (approximately 11 million USD ) to support the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF). These actions should be red flags to the international community and financial institutions. If this were a real ceasefire, would Abiy continue attacking Tigray and keep scavenging for money from all avenues? The international community needs to be extremely vigilant of Abiy Ahmed’s ingenuine ceasefire and needs to impose economic and security sanctions in addition to halting all payments to and projects in Ethiopia. It is very clear that Abiy is desperate to continue this war and is willing to use any means necessary to continue to pay for this genocide. The international community cannot continue to allow Abiy to completely destroy Tigray.

Abiy has disregarded democracy, regional security, and human rights. He is an autocratic leader who continues to commit heinous crimes against Tigray and Tigrayans. Thus, the international community should treat him as such, as they did to the military coup leaders in Myanmar.

Yet, financial institutions still continue to fund ongoing projects and approve the distribution of more money to Ethiopia without putting in place any monitoring systems in the country that ensures that funding is not being used to finance this genocide. 

The World Bank claims that they do not have a mandate to get involved in internal governance issues of its member states when responding to the situation in Tigray;  however, they did not hesitate when interfering in Myanmar’s internal governance. 

The U.S. and the international community responded as they should to the crisis in Myanmar. The horrors in Tigray deserve an equally tough and righteous response.

Omna Tigray Contributor, July 2021

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