(Washington, DC, March 18, 2013) – A World Bank board meeting scheduled for March 19, 2013, to consider the recommendation of its Inspection Panel to investigate whether the bank has violated its policies in a project in Ethiopia has been postponed to an unspecified date. The project was linked to the Ethiopian government’s resettlement program, known as “villagization,” which Human Rights Watch has criticized for resulting in widespread human rights violations.
Human Rights Watch has recommended that the World Bank’s board should support an internal investigation into allegations of abuse linked to the project. The villagization program involves the forced relocation of some 1.5 million Ethiopians, including indigenous and other marginalized people, and has been marred by violence.
The World Bank’s Promotion of Basic Services (PBS) project in Ethiopia, intended to improve education, health care, water and sanitation, agriculture, and rural roads, contributes to the villagization program by partially paying the salaries of local government officials who have been required to assist implementing it, Human Rights Watch said.
“The World Bank’s president and board should support an internal investigation into the plagued Ethiopia project without delay,” said Jessica Evans, senior international financial institutions advocate at Human Rights Watch. “The longer the investigation is delayed, the longer the shadow of controversy will remain over this project.”
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