The European Union has halted the payment of about 90 million euros in budget support to Ethiopia due to the bloc’s concerns over the crisis in the Tigray region.
According to an internal EU document, the delay is meant to reinforce the EU’s request for a response from Ethiopia’s government over the bloc’s calls for aid to be allowed into Tigray.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military invasion of the northern region of Tigray, a conflict that has created a humanitarian crisis with thousands reported dead, 950,000 people displaced, and over 50,000 refugees fleeing to neighboring Sudan.
The document says “postponing those three budget support disbursements aims at creating political space to assess the current situation and request a response with regard to the EU’s concerns related to humanitarian access, cessation of hostilities and media access.”
Western nations view Ethiopia as an ally in a volatile region, especially against al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants al Shabaab in neighboring Somalia. The conflict poses a policy dilemma for Western governments amid reports that civilians have been targeted by both sides, and as many aid groups complain they cannot access the region more than two weeks after the government declared the end of its military operation.
The 27-nation EU is also calling for a cessation of hostilities, investigations into human rights abuses during the conflict, and for journalists to be allowed to visit the region, according to the document, which was authenticated by a senior diplomatic official in Addis Ababa.
The value of EU development assistance to Ethiopia has averaged an estimated 214 million euros per year, according to the bloc’s website.