The Ethiopian government has signed an interim agreement allowing the United Nations to begin reconstruction work in war-torn Tigray until the parties negotiate a permanent peace deal.
The agreement with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) means the agency will begin rebuilding certain basic social services with funding from the World Bank, which announced the grant in early April
The World Bank, through its arm of the International Development Association (IDA), has approved a US$300 million grant for Ethiopia’s Response Recovery Resilience program to rehabilitate all regions of the country affected by conflict or violence.
But it is the Tigray region that, with more than 2.1 million displaced people and at least 600,000 from the Hung dying people is most affected. This is in addition to the general estimate that the war caused approximately $2.5 billion in damage to infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and hospitals.
In a According to the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance, UNOPS will work in Tigray “until the situation in Tigray improves to enable the government to implement the project with its own structure. In that case, UNOPS will hand over the activities to the government.”
The agreement, signed by Ethiopian Finance Minister Ahmed Shide and UNOPS representative Werknesh Mekonen, says the UN Agency will focus on the Tigray portion of the World Bank-funded project. Its responsibilities include providing a “rapid response service”, including rebuilding damaged basic facilities, as well as supporting “social-level community institutions”. “Rebuild and improve access to essential services and climate-resilient municipal infrastructure” of the project.”
Since the outbreak of war in November 2020 between the Ethiopian National Armed Forces and the People’s Liberation Front of Tigray (TPLF) various organizations, including the UN, have documented systematic atrocities, including rapes, expulsions and killings; committed by both sides. One of the main tasks of the reconstruction program will be treating war survivors, assisting them with resettlement and addressing long-term justice needs.
In April, the World Bank announced the project consisted of “to support the immediate needs of communities, to rehabilitate/restore infrastructure destroyed by conflict and to build sustainable community resilience to the impact of conflict.”
“Urgent To meet the needs of conflict-affected communities, mobile units are being dispatched to provide essential services including education, health, water and sanitation,” she then added.
But Ethiopia may need to accelerate its peace talks with TPLF first n. Both the Ethiopian government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the TPLF rebels have expressed their willingness to discuss a peaceful solution and have formed teams to do so. However, talks are not expected until after August when the logistical plans for the parties are in place.
However, the TPLF has questioned the implementation of this program at UNOPS, saying they have been left in the dark.
“I just don’t understand what that means, let alone how it’s supposed to work. [It’s] a cry for answers!” tweeted Getachew Reda, TPLF spokesman.