The New Humanitarian | Politicisation of aid in Ethiopia, Rethinking Humanitarianism


Ethiopia recently marked one year of war. The conflict has spread from the northern Tigray region to other parts of the country, including Afar and Amhara. Millions of people are in need of humanitarian assistance, but the federal government has blocked supplies from getting into Tigray, and insecurity has limited aid access in other regions too.

The relief effort has been heavily politicised, as were prior aid operations in Ethiopia, where the central government has long controlled how humanitarian organisations work. Aid workers are accused of partiality, and hammered with lies and vitriol from the government and its opponents, especially if they dare to speak out about the aid blockade and other aspects of the conflict.

In this episode, TNH CEO and podcast host Heba Aly discusses the difficult balancing act for aid agencies in Ethiopia that want to speak out against abuses in Tigray but are worried about the consequences of doing so on their perceived neutrality and their ability to continue delivering assistance to those who need it. 

Guests: Addis Ababa-based journalist Samuel Getachew; Laura Hammond, profesor of Development Studies at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), University of London; Awol Allo, senior lecturer in law at Keele University; David Del Conte, campaigner of Stop Tigray Famine at Refugees International.

New episodes of Rethinking Humanitarianism are published every two weeks. Make sure you never miss an episode of season two by subscribing on Spotify, Apple, Google, Stitcher, or YouTube, or searching “The New Humanitarian” in your favourite podcast app.

Got a question or feedback? Email [email protected] or have your say on Twitter using the hashtag #RethinkingHumanitarianism.


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