Foreign Secretary Raab visits Ethiopia

26 Jan 2021

The British Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Affairs, The Rt Hon Dominic Raab, made his debut visit to Ethiopia as part of a wider tour of East Africa, which had seen him visiting neighbouring Kenya and Sudan.

During his time in Ethiopia, the Foreign Secretary held bilateral engagements with President Sahle-Work Zewde, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen.

Discussions covered a wide range of issues including the ongoing situation in Tigray; economic reforms and prosperity; the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) tripartite talks, Ethio-Sudan border issues, climate change, and COVID-19, amongst others.

As part of his visit to Ethiopia, the Foreign Secretary visited a World Food Programme (WFP) warehouse in Gondar, where he saw first-hand the vital role that UK aid is playing in helping those most in need of humanitarian assistance.

The WFP warehouse in Gondar is central to distributing humanitarian aid such as food and sanitation supplies to those displaced by the crisis in Tigray.

The UK is providing £11.4 million of humanitarian support – with money for healthcare and clean water, as well as shelter, nutrition kits, and protection for children. This is in addition to a £94 million package to support Ethiopia’s response to the triple threats of COVID-19, climate change, and locusts, which are having a devastating impact on the country.

Arriving back in Addis Ababa the Foreign Secretary met with President Sahle-Work to discuss bilateral and regional issues as well as the strong multi-sectoral ties between the two countries.

The two also visited a school, accompanied by the Minister of Education, to see how the UK is supporting girls’ education through the Department for International Development (DfID).

Foreign Secretary Raab also spoke to Prime Minister Abiy about humanitarian access and a solution to the Tigray crisis, as well as climate change and prosperity.

In talks with the Deputy PM and Foreign Minister, Demeke Mekonnen, the Foreign Secretary was briefed on the provision of humanitarian assistance in Tigray and the progress being made in rehabilitating the Region.

On the occasion, Mr. Raab signed a climate partnership agreement with Deputy PM  Demeke for collaboration between the UK and Ethiopia ahead of COP26, the UN climate change conference.

As UK will be hosting this year’s climate change conference, DPM Demeke expressed Ethiopia’s commitment to continue to address the effects of climate change and said that the implementation of its climate resilient and green economy strategy is well underway, including achieving the target of planting 20 billion seedlings in four years.

Mr. Raab on his part applauded the government’s efforts with regards to the development of renewable resources and said that Ethiopia is a beacon of hope for the region when it comes to addressing the effects of climate change.

Speaking at the end of his visit to East Africa, Mr. Raab said, “This trip has been an invaluable opportunity to strengthen key partnerships in East Africa, boosting trade, security, and our ability to tackle global challenges including Covid-19 and climate change. We are committed to bringing the best of British expertise to the region, defusing tensions, doing business with integrity, and forging strong partnerships on health, climate, and other global challenges.”

In addition to this, the Foreign Secretary also announced a £3 million UK fund for the development of the private media which will be managed by a consortium led by BBC Media Action.

The consortium will bring together national and local media organisations to help them navigate challenges including how to identify and counter misinformation, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their operations and their audiences, and how to more effectively secure funding for their organizations.

“By supporting local reporting in Ethiopia, and making sure journalists have the right skills and resources to gather stories, investigate issues and highlight local and national successes, the UK is helping to support ethical and professional media,” the Foreign Secretary said.

Caroline Nursey, CEO of BBC Media Action said: “The PRIMED (Protecting Independent Media for Effective Development) initiative will use this UK funding to offer targeted training, capacity building, and support to a range of non-state media organisations to support and defend media sustainability

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