12 January 2013

Ethiopia: UK Urged to Refrain From Funding Ethiopia's 'Special Police'

London — An exiled independent advocacy group, Resolve Ogaden Coalition (ROC), on Saturday urged the British government to refrain from sending money to train Ethiopian paramilitaries that are widely accused of human rights abuses in the ethnic Somali region.

Britain is preparing to fund up to £15 million in foreign aid to train the government-backed paramilitary group locally known as "Liyu police" as part of a five-year "peace-building" programme.

There have repeatedly been allegations of human rights abuses against the Liyu police.

International human rights groups have documented many extrajudicial killings, rape and torture by the Ethiopian militia group. The Ethiopian military has dismissed those allegations saying smear campaign against nation.

"Resolve Ogaden Coalition strongly urges the British government to immediately halt all financial, military and political support for the Liyuu Police and the Ethiopian regime" it said in statement it sent to Sudan Tribune.

ROC called on the British government to put pressure on the Ethiopian government to stop alleged gross human rights violations committed by the special police against the Ogaden people.

The group appealed to the British Government to pressure both the Ethiopian government and the Ogaden rebels to resume their stalled peace talks to end the long-standing conflict in the region.

Global bodies including Amnesty International have voiced concerns on how Britain's foreign aid is spent.

However, Britain's Department for International Development said that the peace and development programme will be managed by non-governmental and United Nations organizations "with the goal of improving the security, and accountability of the force."

The department added that no funding will go through the government of Ethiopia to avoid financial abuse.

The UK is the largest aid contributor to Ethiopia after the United States.

In 2007, the Ethiopian military launched a counter-insurgency campaign against ONLF after the rebel group attacked a Chinese oil field and killed 65 Ethiopians and 9 Chinese workers.

Ethiopia's counter-insurgency campaign is led by 14,000-strong special police.

The ONLF is a separatist militant group fighting a low-scale war for the independence of the Ogaden region that neighbors war-torn Somalia.

Addis Ababa has designated the group as a terrorist entity along with rebel group of Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Gibot 7 movement.

In 2010, a major section of the ONLF signed a peace accord with Ethiopia.

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