ETHIOPIA: INTERFERENCE IN RELIEF OPERATIONS

Created: 7/15/1985

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ETHIOPIA: Interference In Helief Operations

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operations, imdertainlng the credibility illtical reliefEthiopian government Western-backed relief efforts with suspicion and manipulate aid operations to enhance its control of the country.

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ting over Uie last year reveals that boot* noaat noi uifj the famine crisis and International relief aid forandrposei. Despite professing cooper at Ian. the rtertgistu regime has frequently Interfered nrlth relief operations, latdermlning the credtb of Its generally ram-political relief eaealssion. In our ludciBent, th.

Ethiopian Belief Effort

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experienced tn dealing with Western and international relief agencies. Until recently. Addis Ababa consideredenefit since almost all relief assistance came from the West. Western presence in Ethiopia was keptinimum because th* RRC was able to deal with natural calamities on its own. The ctrnmisslon, however, has been overwhelmed by the scale of the current natural disastera large foreign presence to assist in relief programs.

Ihe RRC's efforts to feed and care for the Ethiopian population,

ji , 'have1 hf several factors

over which it has little control;

Skilled managers to oversee relief operations are in short supply.

he country's highway system is primitive, and several million needy people are days from major highways or airstrips.

erious shortage of trucks and repair mechanics exists.

In addition to these resource constraints, however, we believe that RRC operations are hindered by goverrwnent interference. In our judgment, the RRC's relief mission Is undermined Oy Addis Ababa's fear that relief assistance will strengthen the insurgencieshe northern provinces of

'igre and Eritrea, tht region hardest-hit by the drought. I

the

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I for example, Addts Ababa strongly oppose* irw provision ui leimi am iu dissident re lef organizations Of any crtttS-border

feeding program from Sudan.

regime also is delaying theuvcjiiiiwii muinu enurtt into rebel-held territory, despite an agreement between the RRC chairman and

International food donors to initiaterogram. In ourIn Addis Ababa fear that food will end up in rebel handsams will be smuggled to the rebels under the cover of

The Hengistu government's htgn priority resettlementdesigned f" part to separate the local populace fromarticularly significant impact on the credibility of the RRC relief

operations, in our view. Forsome

peasants have been lured to feeding facilities oy turen or assistance and thenresettlement Site* in other regions of the country. At the same time, hundreds of trucks and severalcould be used to transport reliefbeen used to move peasants from the north. Western observers also have noted the presence of large numbers of trucks at the new resettlement sites to Support new arrivals and government workers,ime when massive

APPRQVEO FOR RELEASE DATE: AUG ?IO?

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of relief aid were back-logged in the distribution system, in addition, the Embassy claims thatunknown nuntter of sMlliti government administrators have been diverted to manage the camps,

Beyond Mengistu's concerns with the insurgency and possible political unrest, we Judge that he also foars tr*nina hvtn subvert his socialist goals.

Cialrnan MtRBistu aid sore otl tr scrno* tiiTOpian OTfc'ar< oelie.eIs -tainted" by its longtime association with the West. Tocontrol, the regime has assigned party cadre to These personnel are more responsive to regime directionoverride th* ostensibly independent RRC leadership on At the same time,indicate that Nengistu

believes the relief camps are being used by the West and the insurgents to propagandize and recruit members. He plans, therefore, to close down canpS Such as Ibnat over the next few months, forcing the refugees to return to their homes or accept resettlement. | ^

Presets

In our judgment, Kenglstu will remain suspicious ofespeciallyassistance, frustrating International efforts to assist and rehabilitate the population. The diversion of relief goods or vehicles to support government security and political objections is unlikely to end. We believe that Addis Ababa will continue to try avoiding detection by diverting from programs that are difficut for donors to monitor end use. The government will also persist in Stone-iallina any comprehensive feeding program that includes rebel-held areas.

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