By THE CANADIAN PRESS
OTTAWA — Canada’s aid agency says it will look into how Ethiopia spends the assistance after publication of a report that accuses the African country of an abusive and systematic practice of forcing rural villagers off their land.
The response came after a report released Tuesday by New York-based Human Rights Watch blasted the Horn of Africa country for its “villagization” program that it says has forcibly relocated 70,000 indigenous people, and aims to move 1.5 million by next year.
The forced expulsions have cut villagers off from food and health services while forcing them to endure abuse from the Ethiopian army, the report alleges.
An Ottawa-based researcher and author interviewed more than 100 Ethiopians during a clandestine investigation last year that accuses their country’s leaders of sacrificing its own tribes to broader foreign corporate interests.
Researcher Felix Horne says the situation violates Canada’s own Official Development Assistance Accountability Act, which says aid spending must meet international human-rights standards.
Ethiopia is the third-largest recipient of foreign aid from Canada, at about $170 million a year.
Horne told The Canadian Press he had off-the-record discussions with officials at the Canadian International Development Agency about his findings last year, but got little meaningful response.
That changed Tuesday, several hours after the release of the report, when a spokesman for Canada’s International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda replied to a request for comment: “We will look into these allegations further, to ensure there is no misuse of Canadian taxpayers’ resources.”