It has been reported that thousands of indigenous people in Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley are being forcibly removed from their land to make way for commercial agriculture and the Gibe III hydroelectric dam. The project will jeopardise the livelihood of up to 400 000 indigenous people in Ethiopia and Kenya. As a member of the Development Assistance Group, the EU contributes to the Protection of Basic Services (PBS) multi-donor programme. PBS funds are being used to plan and implement the Ethiopian Government’s resettlement programme, which aims to resettle all indigenous people from the Lower Omo Valley in permanent villages. The ongoing forced resettlement is being carried out supposedly to provide health and education services, which have yet to be made available. State-run and private plantations, owned by Ethiopian diaspora in India, Italy, Malaysia and the USA are being established in these areas to grow primarily oil palms, sugarcane, grain and cotton. Thousands of agropastoralists and inhabitants along the Omo river will no longer be able to sustain themselves. 1 200 Bodi people living in the area of a reservoir created behind a diversion dam have lost their homes and livelihoods as floodwaters destroyed their farms and grain stores. The farms, grain stores and beehives of Mursi and Kwegu families have also been destroyed. This destruction has been accompanied by allegations of other abuses, including killings, beatings and rape. The Ethiopian Government has not paid any compensation.
1. Is the Commission aware that PBS funds are being used for the resettlement programme?
2. How much and what funds and budget lines are being used to contribute to the PBS programme? For how long have such contributions been made?
3. Has the Commission conducted any assessment of the PBS programme? If so, when was the assessment carried out and what were the findings?
4. Is the Commission aware of the ongoing issue of land grabbing and that livelihoods are being jeopardised as a result? Will the Commission provide support for any compensation payments?
5. What measures has the Commission taken, or does intend to take, to investigate forced evictions and other human rights abuses in the Lower Omo region?
6. What measures will the Commission take to avoid future human rights violations?
7. Will the Commission suspend its contributions to the PBS owing to these human rights abuses?