End World Bank Complicity in Ethiopian Relocation Hoax

Target: World Bank Donor Countries

Goal: Insist that the World Bank implement its own safeguard policies to protect Ethiopians affected by forced relocation

In order to implement the World Bank’s “protection of basic services” (PBS) project—designed to provide better access to education, health care, and other important services—the Ethiopian government began its “villagization” program. Under this program, the government intends to forcibly relocate 1.5 million people, mostly indigenous and ethnic minorities, to new, better equipped villages by the end of 2013.  Unfortunately, rather than improving lives, this program is inflicting massive hardships and suffering on Ethiopians at both ends of the relocation spectrum. Tell the World Bank to stop sitting idly by and allowing its own programs to destroy innocent lives.

For those Ethiopians who wish to stay on their land, villagization has meant arbitrary arrests, beatings, and deaths, as government troops violently insist on relocation. And yet, for those who do agree to move, improved health care, schools, and other promised public services are found lacking at the new sites. In fact, life gets much worse. Families leave fertile land deeply rooted in their culture and their subsistence only to find themselves trapped in dry, arid deserts. And while these families suffer abuse and government attacks if they try to return to their homeland, multinational companies move in to reap the benefits of a newly vacant and fertile soil.

Because villagization is tied to the World Bank’s PBS project, the Bank is paying local government officials to carry out this forced relocation. Despite several complaints brought before the Bank’s accountability mechanism by affected Ethiopians, nothing has been done to date to change the program. In fact, the Bank approved the third round of the PBS loan only hours after receiving the Ethiopians’ complaints.

The World Bank does have policies in place to prevent harm done by its projects, but it has to leverage them. Donor countries—the U.S., for example, the Bank’s leading shareholder—have the ability and the prerogative to hold the Bank accountable to ethical standards. Ask the international community to put an end to this destructive and immoral hoax.


Dear World Bank Donor Countries,

The current manifestation of the World Bank’s “protection of basic services” (PBS) project in Ethiopia is an example of runaway injustice and exploitation. “Villagization” has become forced relocation of indigenous people and ethnic minorities from fertile areas to dry, arid land. Promises of better access to health care, schools, and other public services have been little more than veiled lies. And there is evidence that the newly vacated lands are being used by multinational companies.

People are suffering, both at the hands of the government forces insisting on relocating them and in these new villages, bereft of social services. And the World Bank—committed to the development of marginalized communities—continues to pay the salaries of those responsible despite its own safeguard policies.

I ask that you, the countries who hold shares in the World Bank, demand that the Bank follow its own policies and mission and end the villagization program in Ethiopia.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: treesftf via Flickr

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