IMF Stop Funding Tigray Genocide: Request for IMF policy review on Ethiopia

Open Letters

Open Letter

Kristalina Georgieva

Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.
International Monetary Fund, 700 19th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20431

RE: Tigray Genocide & Request for IMF Country Policy Review on Ethiopia

Dear Mrs. Kristalina Georgieva,

TADA UK is a community group formed by British citizens of Ethiopian origin in January 2020 to create awareness of the plight of Tigrayans in Ethiopia who have been affected by the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia. Members of TADA UK have been directly impacted by the ongoing conflict, including through the death of close family members in Tigray. TADA UK carries out advocacy and public education campaigns, and works to promote peace, development and stability in Tigray, and in Ethiopia at large. TADA UK works closely with UK civic organisations, youth Forums, NGO’s and international development organisations.

Risk of misuse of IMF funds by the Ethiopian Government:

1 Ethiopia’s economy has suffered greatly from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing political instability and conflict. Ethiopian banks have experienced an acute liquidity crisis over the last 18 months, forcing the National Bank of Ethiopia to inject liquidity into the banks and set limits on liquidity holdings. In April 2020, the IMF granted Ethiopia’s request for support for debt relief and to address balance of payments pressures in the amount of $423 million30. Economists have noted the Ethiopian government’s strategic change in direction to privatise state-owned enterprises in order to address foreign exchange shortages and contain debt vulnerabilities. In November 2020, it was reported that the central bank had foreign reserves of just $3 billion.

2 Aid to Ethiopia from donors such as the IMF and the World Bank made up nearly a quarter of government revenue in 2020. It has been estimated that if such aid were to be withdrawn, Ethiopia’s budget deficit would increase to over 30% of GDP, before accounting for military spending33. In such circumstances there is a reasonably foreseeable risk that the Ethiopian government, short of liquidity, would make use of any significant foreign investment of funds (such as the Licence fee) at this time to fund the ongoing fighting – and abuses – in Tigray.

US IFDC withholding of funds

3 That concern has already been recognised by other investors in Ethiopia. Significantly, as you will be aware, the US International Finance Development Corporation (“IFDC”) is currently withholding $500m in debt finance to the Consortium to support acquisition and development costs arising in relation to the Licence.34 It has been widely reported that the IFDC has taken the decision to pause its funding following the Biden Administration’s decision to implement measures against Ethiopia on 23 May 2021, as outlined above. It is apparent that while the US restrictions put in place by the Biden Administration do not prevent the IFDC from providing the loan as a matter of law, the IFDC has nonetheless determined not to do so at this time, presumably due to shared concern about the ongoing hostilities and grave human rights violations being perpetrated in Tigray.

4. To similar effect, as early as December 2020, the ongoing violence was of such concern to the EU Commission that it suspended nearly €90 million in budgetary aid to Ethiopia, criticising the Ethiopian government for failing to provide adequate access to Tigray to respond to the humanitarian situation

International Condemnation

On 17/12/2021, OHCHR | Human Rights Council decides to establish an International Commission of Human Rights Experts to investigate allegations of violations in Ethiopia

Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Urges All Parties to Pull Back from a Posture of War in Ethiopia | UN GENEVA

Others:

G7 Foreign Ministers’ Statement on the situation in Tigray, Ethiopia | Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (mofa.go.jp) Statement on the killing of three MSF aid workers in the Tigray Region

U.S. Congress:

UN Human Rights Council

U.S. Department of the Treasury

5. In light of such concerns, there has been widespread international condemnation. On 13 November 2020, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, warned there was a risk that the situation would spiral out of control, heightening the risk of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity15.

6. On 22 March 2021, the EU imposed sanctions on Eritrea over human rights violations in Tigray and blacklisted the country’s National Security Office, which is tasked with intelligence gathering, arrests and interrogations.16

7. On 2 April 2021, the Foreign Ministers of the G7, of which the UK is a member nation, issued a statement condemning the killing of civilians, sexual and gender-based violence, indiscriminate shelling, and the forced displacement of residents of Tigray and Eritrean refugees. They called on all parties to exercise restraint, ensure the protection of civilians and respect human rights and international law17.

8. On 22 April 2021, the UNFPA Ethiopia issued a statement on behalf of UN agencies and NGOs working in the region expressing alarm at the increasing reports of violence against women and girls, including harrowing accounts of sexual violence, in the Tigray region18.

9. On the same day, the UN Security Council, of which the UK government is a permanent member, issued a statement expressing its concern at the humanitarian situation in Tigray, in particular the reports of sexual violence against women and girls. The Security Council called for a scaled-up humanitarian response, a restoration of normalcy to the security situation in Tigray and stressed the need for full compliance with international law19.

10. In a briefing paper ordered to be published on 27 April 2021, the House of Commons International Development Committee recommended that “in accordance with UN resolution 2417 (2018), the UK Government should explore whether to use the mechanisms of the UN Security Council to press for penalties such as sanctions against actors found to be obstructing the delivery of essential humanitarian supplies and using starvation as a weapon of war”20.

11. On 23 May 2021, the day after the Licence was awarded, the Biden Administration announced a series of US sanctions measures against the Ethiopian government, including visa restrictions for certain Ethiopian and Eritrean officials and curbs on economic and security assistance.21

12. On 5 June 2021, the UK’s special envoy for famine prevention and humanitarian affairs stated in a memorandum sent to aid agencies and embassies in Addis Ababa obtained by Bloomberg that millions of people in Tigray are on the brink of famine and in need of life saving aid22.

13. As of 10 June 2021, the UN OCHA humanitarian update on the conflict in the region states that food insecurity and acute malnutrition, which are already at catastrophic levels in hard-to-reach areas, will deteriorate into widespread famine23.

14. On 13 June 2021, the leaders of the G7 issued a communiqué summarising the outcomes of the Cornwall summit, which included a condemnation of the “ongoing atrocities” in Tigray. They called for full accountability for reported human rights violations in Tigray and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice, as well as the immediate withdrawal of Eritrean troops, and for the Ethiopian government to respect the human and political rights of all Ethiopians24.

15. On 14 June 2021, responding to an urgent question in the House of Commons, James Duddridge, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, expressed the UK Government’s deep concern about the deteriorating situation in Ethiopia. He noted that the UK Government’s “greatest concern is the rapidly growing human rights and humanitarian crisis in Tigray. We are now more than seven months into the conflict in Tigray, and there is no sight of an end. It has taken a terrible toll on the people of Tigray. More than 350,000 people are assessed to be in famine-like conditions in total—more than anywhere else in the world—and, sadly, this is expected to rise.” He further noted that the range of abuses carried out “includes extrajudicial killings, and widespread sexual and gender-based violence. It is simply unacceptable, it must stop and the perpetrators must be held to account.”25

16. On 16 June 2021, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in accordance with its mandate of promotion and protection of human rights in Africa under Article 45 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter), announced the commencement of the work of the Commission of Inquiry on Tigray, established pursuant to ACHPR Resolution 482 (EXT.OS/XXXII) 2021.26 The Commission has a mandate to, inter alia, investigate allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and to gather all relevant information so as to determine whether the allegations constitute serious and massive violations of human rights.

17. On 25 June 2021, the US Government condemned the horrific killings of three staff members of the international humanitarian organisation Doctors withoutBorders in Tigray. The US State Department noted that “the Government of Ethiopia ultimately bears full responsibility for ensuring the safety of humanitarian workers and free and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance” and called for “an independent investigation and for the perpetrators to be held accountable for these killings”.

18. On 2 July 2021, briefing the UN Security Council, Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, noted that the consequence of not acting now to end violence in Ethiopia’s Tigray region could be “disastrous”. She called on the parties to place paramount concern on the protection of the 1.7 million people who have been displaced by the conflict, including more than 60,000 refugees who have crossed into Sudan. She also urged the parties to assist the ongoing joint investigation of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and urged Ethiopia’s leaders to swiftly restore national unity through an inclusive dialogue and reconciliation process.

We recognize the IMF is accountable to its member governments, and is also scrutinized by multiple stakeholders, from political leaders and officials to, the media, civil society, academia, and its own internal watchdog. The IMF, in turn, encourages its own members to be as open as possible about their economic policies to encourage their accountability and transparency. Based on this cardinal principles, we are writing this letter to request you to critically assess the current war and HumanitarianSituation of Ethiopia, immediately withhold IMF financialsupport to the Government of Ethiopia, until such time the Independent Criminal Investigation by UNHRC is complete.

We also request you to take serious considerations into the current steps taken to end the war by the UNSC, EU, UK and The USA. The war has been raging for nearly tenmonths with horrendous aftermaths and catastrophic consequences in terms of human lives and property. To date, tens of thousands of people have been killed; hunger and starvation, and sexual violence and rape have been weaponized; the Tigray Region’s infrastructure has been deliberately destroyed, to subjugate the people of Tigray:

Based on the United Nation’s human rights Charter, we believe an act of genocide being committed against the Tigriyan people. This act of genocide has been committed with impunity since the 4th of November 2020; whereby thousands of unarmed civilians have been wantonly massacred.

As a reminder. The statements from leading world leaders and governments are highlighted below:

A. We, the G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America and the High Representative of the European Union are strongly concerned about recent reports on human rights violations and abuses, and violations of international humanitarian law in Tigray.
B. ‘We condemn the killing of civilians, sexual and gender based violence, indiscriminate shelling and the forced displacement of residents of Tigray and Eritrean refugees. All parties must exercise utmost restraint, ensure the protection of civilians and respect human rights and international law’ G7 Foreign Ministers’ Statement on the situation in Tigray , Brussels, 02/04/2021 – 11:47, UNIQUE ID: 210402_3
C. The UK Parliament International Development Committee took evidence on the crisis during a one-off evidence session last week. Members heard that many thousands of people are displaced with insufficient access to food and clean water. It confirmed there are reports of serious human rights violations including sexual violence. With no end to the suffering in sight, the Chairs of the Committees are seeking answers on the FCDO’s actions to end the conflict, ensure safe access for humanitarian supplies and to collect evidence of human rights abuses. The UK Parliament International Development Committee
D. “The situation in Tigray is heart-wrenching. Last week my Committee heard deeply troubling reports of rape being used as a weapon of war, severe food shortages, breakdown of health and education infrastructure and the safety of NGO staff under threat in refugee camps. This must not go on, and the UK Government cannot bury its head in the sand. The UK Parliament International Development Committee Chair, Sarah Champion MP
E. “Rape as a weapon of war is an appalling and frequent feature of the war in Tigray. US President Biden has sent Senator Chris Coons to Ethiopia to help find a solution but there is still more that can be done. The UK must bring allies together to end this horrific conflict and the Foreign Secretary has an important role in coordinating others. I have written to ask his plans and look forward to hearing more.” Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, Tom Tugendhat MP
F. Mr. Antony Blinken, the Foreign Secretary of the USA’s government, has expressed his government’s position on the war waged by PM Abiyi Amhed Ali, affirming that his office has incontrovertible evidence that ethnic cleansing has been taking place in Tigray by the joint forces of Amhara, federal-state forces, and Eritrean army.
G. The USA Government made a clear & loud statement, the extreme forces have started razing the whole village by showering cluster bombs, as a desperation tool before the arrival of the international investigators. As it is well known by all parties, deploying cluster bombs is prohibited by UN-SC Resolution (1325 & 1612). These extreme dictators who do not heed international laws nor have respect to the international community nor human dignity have been dropping cluster bombs since the middle of  February on the Tigray villages, as you can see in the attached document and the link stated below: 
H. “A Pogrom is happening in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is killing its own citizens wantonly. That is chilling, but true: by attempting to extirpate Ethiopia of Tigrayan ethnicity and heritage, Ethiopia’s military and government stands accused of purposeful ethnic cleansing, a precursor to all-out genocide, as outlawed by the UN Convention against Genocide”

(Professor Robert Rothberg, Former President of the World Peace Foundation; 28 January 2021)

I “In my 30 yrs. humanitarian work in brutalised places e.g. Darfur, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Bosnia, I have never come across situations like #Ethiopia #Tigray where the military deliberately sets out to occupy/destroy most health facilities. World Record in Human Degradation”

(Professor Mukesh Kapila; Writer, Author & Global Health Humanitarian; Twitter; 14 March 2021)

I. “Our analysis shows that the EHRC is not fit for purpose as the country tries to break with the repressive past. The EHRC’s brazen bias against victims and a dismissive stance towards their complaints means that the EHRC’s reports on protester killings and prison conditions squandered opportunities to make things right for the victims.”

(Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes; June 2019)

Ethiopian officials and allied militia fighters are leading a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing in Tigray and , the war-torn region in northern Ethiopia, according to an internal United States government report obtained by The New York Times. The report, written earlier this month, documents in stark terms a land of looted houses and deserted villages where tens of thousands of people are unaccounted for. Fighters and officials from the neighboring Amhara region of Ethiopia, that entered Tigray in support of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, is “deliberately and efficiently rendering Western Tigray ethnically homogeneous through the organized use of force and intimidation,” the report says. ‘Whole villages were severely damaged or completely erased’, the report said.”

(The New York Times; 26 February 2021)

Global reactions on Weapon of Hunger, Starvation and Famine:

“Emaciated refugees to crops burned on the brink of harvest, starvation threatens the survivors of more than two months of fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. The first humanitarian workers to arrive after pleading with the Ethiopian government for access describe weakened children dying from diarrhea after drinking from rivers. Shops were looted or depleted weeks ago. More than 4.5 million people, nearly the region’s entire population, need emergency food. Hundreds of thousands might starve to death and some already had, according to minutes obtained by The Associated Press. There is an extremely urgent need — I don’t know what more words in English to use — to rapidly scale up the humanitarian response because the population is dying every day as we speak,”

(Mari Carmen Vinoles, Head of the Emergency Unit for Doctors without Borders)

“In all my years as an aid worker, I have rarely seen a humanitarian response so impeded and unable to deliver in response for so long, to so many with such pressing needs. As an international community, we are clearly failing to deliver against the humanitarian imperative we are facing. Millions of women, children and men, including refugees, are in a truly desperate situation, suffering alone without aid or protection. The entire aid sector, NRC included, must also recognise our failure to define the scale of the crisis, to respond early, to coordinate and to speak out – all of which has crippled the collective response. We must all act now and play our part to ensure aid reaches the millions of people suffering in Tigray.”

(Secretary-General Jan Egeland: Norwegian Refugee Council: Aid still not reaching Tigray, 

1 February 2021)

—–

“No more whitewashing: Aid is still NOT reaching civilians in desperate need in Ethiopia’s Tigray. Hunger and malnutrition reach them faster. In 40 years as a humanitarian, I’ve rarely seen an aid response so impeded. We are failing as an international community”(Jan Egeland, Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council)Ethiopia’s conflict in Tigray:Women describe how rape is used as a weapon. Sensitive information included:

How can IMF’ support human rights in Ethiopia?

Currently, Ethiopian Government is shopping Armaments in the Middle East, Turkey, Russia and China, reaching the country revenue targets will remain impossible for Ethiopia without further debt accumulation. We have tangible evidence to show hard currencies been syphoned to buy sophisticates heavyweapons from Turkey and China. While the Abiy government faced strong political opposition to the resulting inflationary pressures, among other challengesand the government trying to obtain a supportive DSA.This will be serious abuse to the IMF support mechanisms and harming the very poverty ridden people of the country. The Office of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, released on 24 March 2020 an official appeal in which Ahmed highlighted the urgent need for a debt resolution and restructuring package while he spent millions of dollars to buy second-handmilitary equipment, including Drones from Turkey and China. SIPRI TRENDS IN INTERNATIONAL ARMS TRANSFERS, 2021 may capture this report when it is published, even if it is third country import.

The government is not showing greater prudence in borrowing by state-owned enterprises (SOEs), miserablyfailed reforms to improve governance and oversight of SOEs that will provide better transparency on SOE debt to support the sustainability of public finances. The government is diverting SOE funds including recent Telecom Service Sales revenues to purchase sophisticated weapons from Turkey and China.

The Ethiopian government failed to review its monetary policy framework, failed to addressing foreign-exchange regulations since the IMF expects foreign exchange regulations to lay the groundwork for achieving single-digit and sustainable inflation. TADA study shows, inflations by far higher than the figures the IMF published and the foreign currency reserve is depleted for the purpose of buying weapons from Iran, UAE, Turkey, China and Russia.

The National Bank of Ethiopia announced its revision of directive FXD/70/2021 for the retention and utilization of export earnings and inward remittances, which includes a greater percentage of foreign-exchange holdings to be retrained. However, Ethiopia foreign currency earning failed dramatically and the government is spending hard earned currencies in the purchase of armaments and paying salaries for Eritrean Soldiers.

The TADA Forum is informed the debt treatment under the G20 Common Framework will depend on the outcome of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s upcoming Debt Sustainability Analysis (DSA) for Ethiopia. To this end , we would request you to consider the Ethiopia Government recent military expenditure, Arms Purchases from Turkey and China and the Illegal Payments to Eritrea, which is accused of serious violations of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law , and accused of Committed international War Crimes.

In view of the above, the Ethiopian government isunlikely to meet the commitment to adhering to the IMF Extended Credit Facility (ECF) program requirements.The IMF’s role should be to protect the most vulnerable in times of crisis and make sure the Ethiopian Government is held to account for its actions in Tigray, Oromia and Benshangul Gumz Regional States.

We certainly believe the IMF earmarked loans shouldn’t be disbursed, as each lending requirements have not been met. We are aware the Ethiopian Government outlined some of the details of its economic program in a “letter of intent” to the Managing Director of the IMF. This letter should be revised as the circumstances of the country has changed for the worst and the IMF should take its social and Economic responsibility seriously and withhold the release of Finance, until such time its uses are verified by IMF internal due diligence mechanisms and Independentassessors.  

The details of information sought

1) In compliance with your duty, please explain how IMF has complied with your internal code, including the additional obligations set out in your lending and grants.

2) What due diligence IMF carried out prior to its decision to lending and grants.

3) Whether that due diligence identified the risk that IMFmight be used for an Excluded Activity by the Government of Ethiopia;

4) Whether IMF has required the Government of Ethiopia to make any “contractual representations, non-contractual undertakings, covenants” or enter any agreements prior to receiving money from IMF including but not limited to any contractual agreements to comply with any environmental, social or human rights / IHL standards or terms within agreed timeframes;

5) How IMF has ensured that this lending/grant meets the requirements of relevant IFC PSs and EHS Guidelines;

6) Whether IMF has developed an appropriate stakeholder engagement plan (including, as appropriate, the application of Free Prior Informed Consent as part of the lending/grant process);

7) Whether IMF has undertaken an E&S assessment and/or produced an issue-specific action plan;

8) Any other controls that IMF has put in place to ensure its funds are not misused; and

9) What rights does IMF have in the event the Government of Ethiopia breaches any of the terms of agreements

10) In taking steps to enhance transparency, the Executive Board should consider how to balance the IMF’s responsibility to oversee the international monetary system with its role as a confidential advisor to its member. The IMF regularly reviews its transparency policy and we want to understand what step you take to alleviate the violations.

We are writing this letter believing the IMF seeks to remain open to our criticism, stop funding genocide in Ethiopia and change its policies when results are disappointing.We also want the IMF Independent Evaluation Office to get involved in our concerns and we are sending a copy of this letter. TADA recognises the IMF past contribution toward raising living standards focuses primarily on macroeconomic stability and sustainable growth, which are in themselves supportive of human rights.

We, at TADA trust your judgement and IMF’s role to uphold Human Rights on its policy and lending Instruments. We would like to receive your explanations and measures taken within reasonable time frame, before we consider legal action. In due course, please consider this letter as a pre action communication and respond accordingly.

Yours faithfully

TADA, UK

 

 

 

 

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