British aid to Ethiopia amounting to hundreds of millions of pounds is being withheld from villagers who don't support the regime of the Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, it has been claimed.
While Britain hands out £290m a year to the African nation as aid, it has been revealed that whole communities are being denied basic food, seed and fertiliser for not supporting the nation's regime.
An undercover investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and BBC Newsnight also gathered evidence of ethnic cleansing, mass detentions and torture by Ethiopian government forces.
Desperation: Famine-stricken families have been forced to walk to aid camps in Ethiopia, which is reportedly being denied aid money
The new report claimed British aid to the country is being used as a tool of political oppression, adding that senior EU and UK officials have failed to act on reports of human rights abuses in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia receives $3bn in development aid every year, with Britain the second largest provider after the U.S.
Britain's contribution has increased 24-fold over the past decade, and the £290m given this year does not include a £48m emergency handout announced last month.
The Bureau reported that since 2005, when Zenawi was accused of 'stealing the election' after the opposition won a landslide in the capital, evidence of horrific human rights violations have poured into the international community.
It claims that basic human rights abuses are being committed by the Government on a daily basis.
The Ethiopian Ambassador to the UK Abdirashid Dulane told the Newsnight programme that the claims made in the report ‘lacked objectivity and even-handedness.’
He said that Ethiopia ’roundly condemned torture and abuse’ and that there were protections against such acts ‘enshrined in the country’s constitution’.
Mr Dulane said that similar allegations in the past had been disproved.
The Ambassador went on to say that the team in Ethiopia’s only source were ‘opponents of Ethiopia who have already been rejected by the electorate’ accusing the journalists of only gaining evidence from the ONLF and OLF rebels groups and people in the Dadaab camp in Kenya.
International Development Minister, Stephen O’Brien, told the Bureau: 'We take all allegations of human rights abuses extremely seriously and raise them immediately with the relevant authorities including the Ethiopian Government, with whom we have a candid relationship.
'Where there is evidence, we take firm and decisive action.
'The British aid programme helps the people of Ethiopia, 30 million of whom live in extreme poverty. We demand full accountability and maximum impact on the ground for support from the British taxpayer.'
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, pictured in 2005, is reportedly denying supplies to communities who don't support him
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