Noah Pitcher is a global politics correspondent for Today News Africa covering the U.S. government, United Nations, African Union, and other actors involved in international developments, political controversies, and humanitarian issues.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is closely monitoring the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Wednesday, asserting that “what is good for the people of Ethiopia is good for the rest of Africa.”
In an exclusive interview with Today News Africa’s Senior International Correspondent Simon Ateba, Georgieva explained that the crisis in northern Ethiopia requires not only a humanitarian response, but also an economic one.
Referring to the ongoing human rights violations and abuses in the Tigray Region, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director said, “We are concerned, and we are monitoring very closely how the situation evolves. It is very important that at the time of a crisis, the price of this crisis is not paid by the suffering of ordinary people.”
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Georgieva’s comments come in the context of numerous recent reports concluding that Ethiopian and Eritrean federal forces have been carrying out ethnic cleansing in the Tigray region, constituting war crimes and crimes against humanity.
“We want to see that there is a good way to help those that are affected- that there is a humanitarian capacity and access for those who need that,” said Georgieva.
The ongoing conflict and instability in the Tigray region have also had a ripple effect, impacting Ethiopia’s economic stability and combining with the COVID-19 pandemic to hinder the nation’s ability to foster economic growth.
In its latest report on the region, the IMF has predicted a 0% GDP growth rate for Ethiopia in 2021. This would be the nation’s lowest rate of growth since 2003.
“We are also monitoring carefully what is the impact on the economy and are there to provide our best advice in a situation like this so the country can overcome this very serious difficulty,” said the IMF Managing Director in her interview with Today News Africa.
Recently, many concerns have been raised regarding Ethiopia’s economy which has been adversely impacted by a convergence of various crises and factors over the past year. The nation has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic while simultaneously suffering from worsening ethnic violence and human rights abuses.
Previously, Ethiopia has been regarded by many as a source of growth for Africa and the next big global economy. In the fifteen years prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Ethiopia had an average annual GDP growth rate of over 10% according to the IMF.
Abiy Ahmed’s selection as Prime Minister in 2018 was accompanied by promises of economic liberalization and hopes of a more democratic future for Ethiopia. However, very little has been done since his inauguration to privatize industries or open trade up to foreign investors.
Rather than enacting extensive liberal and democratic reforms, he has acted in a largely authoritarian and dictatorial manner. The human rights abuses committed by federal forces in the Tigray region have resulted in countless deaths and have left many civilians fearing for their lives.
This humanitarian crisis has also had a detrimental effect on the region’s economic production as hundreds of thousands of Tigray residents have been internally displaced and tens of thousands have fled to neighboring Sudan according to Human Rights Watch.
In the interview Wednesday, Georgieva asserted that Ethiopia is not a lost cause but instead is an opportunity for promoting growth and prosperity across the continent, saying, “Ethiopia has tremendous potential and what is good for the people of Ethiopia of course is good for the rest of Africa.”
The IMF Managing Director offered a hopeful and optimistic vision of what Ethiopia could one day be, saying, “We hope to see resolution and that way forward that can make the country a dynamic force for good for its own people and for the rest of Africa.”
Georgieva concluded the interview with Simon Ateba of Today News Africa by offering wisdom regarding the proper way to respond to disaster, saying, “The most important thing in crises is act decisively, target the most vulnerable, and make sure that you use the crisis as an opportunity to do better in the future- to build more resilience to shocks to come.”
As explained by IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia is not simply a humanitarian crisis but is also an opportunity to come to the defense of the vulnerable and build toward a better, more prosperous future.