the first 210 comments on BBC on aid abuse of Ethiopia

0
669

BBC BLOGS - The Editors

Bob, Band Aid and how the rebels bought their arms

Post categories:

Peter HorrocksPeter Horrocks | 14:59 UK time, Saturday, 6 March 2010

An edition of the BBC World Service programme Assignment, alleging that money intended for famine relief in Ethiopia in the mid-1980s was used to buy weapons, has prompted an angry response from aid campaigners.

Andrew Whitehead, Editor, News and Current Affairs at the BBC World Service, explains how the story came about.

By Andrew Whitehead

A quarter of a century ago, the BBC’s Michael Buerk achieved something very rare – he not only reported the world, but changed it a little bit.

His vivid on-the-spot coverage of a famine “of biblical proportions” in Tigray in northern Ethiopia pricked the conscience of the richer part of the world.

The money came pouring in. Bob Geldof’s Band Aid and Live Aid led the way in galvanising public attention, raising cash and mobilising a huge relief effort.

As a result, many thousands of lives were saved – and tens of thousands of those facing starvation received food.

In the past week, the BBC World Service has broadcast an Assignment documentary – you can listen to it here – based on the testimony of key figures on the ground in and around Tigray in the mid-1980s.

It presents evidence, compelling evidence, that some of the famine relief donations were diverted by a powerful rebel group to buy weapons.

The documentary has revealed some uncomfortable facts and provoked a strong response. This morning a British newspaper, The Independent, gives over its front page to complaints from Bob Geldof and several leading charities. They accuse the BBC of “disgracefully poor reporting”.

The suggestion of aid money being to diverted to buy arms is “palpable nonsense”, in the words of Phil Bloomer, director of Oxfam’s campaigns and policy division.

Geldof goes further. “This is a Ross/Brand moment in BBC standards for me,” he told The Independent. “It is a disgrace.”

OK, so let’s stand back a moment. This documentary was put together by Martin Plaut, Africa Editor at BBC World Service News.

He has a particular expertise in the Horn of Africa, and indeed reported from there on the famine back in the 1980s. He has spent almost a year gathering material and doing research for this documentary – and the BBC stands by his journalism.

As so often is the case, the famine that afflicted northern Ethiopia was compounded by war. Much of Tigray was controlled by a hard left-wing rebel group, the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front. They were fighting the Ethiopian army, then the largest in Africa.

This was also the era of the cold war – and the Americans were seeking to undermine the Soviet-aligned Ethiopian government.

It is not in dispute that millions of dollars of relief aid was channelled through the Relief Society of Tigray (Rest), which was a part of the TPLF rebel movement. It was the only way of reaching those in desperate need in rebel-held areas. What Martin Plaut’s documentary uncovers is the systematic diversion of aid received by Rest to buy arms for the TPLF.

Martin tracked down two key former members of the TPLF who explained how they managed to divert the money.

They are now at odds with the then TPLF leader, Meles Zenawi, who is currently Ethiopia’s Prime Minister. But they are credible voices.

One of these former TPLF fighters, the rebel army commander at the time, makes an allegation which has attracted particular controversy – that the organisation made a policy decision that only 5% of the money received by Rest would be spent on relief, with the bulk going directly or indirectly to support their military and political campaigns.

Among the other accounts featured in the World Service programme, Robert Houdek, who was the senior US diplomat in Ethiopia in the late 1980s, states that TPLF members told him at the time that some aid money and supplies was used to buy weapons. A CIA document paints the same picture.

Bob Geldof was given every opportunity to express his point of view while the documentary was being made, but declined to be interviewed.

Some relief agencies – including Christian Aid and Cafod – pointed us towards their staff involved in directing food supplies 25 years ago, and those voices were included.

Two key aid workers active in and around Ethiopia in the 1980s confirm in the BBC World Service programme the way in which relief was channelled through Rest – though they dispute that there was a significant diversion of money for arms buying.

“If we were being conned, I think it was on a very small scale,” said Stephen King, then overseeing from Sudan the work of Catholic charities in providing food to the starving.

The documentary did not say that most famine relief money was used to buy weapons – it did not suggest that any relief agencies were complicit in the diversion of funds – it explicitly stated that “whatever the levels of deception, much aid did reach the starving”.

But there is a clear public interest in determining whether some money given as famine relief ended up buying guns and bullets.

And that’s what the evidence suggests.

Peter Horrocks is the director of BBC Global News.

Comments

Sign inor register to comment.

  • 1. At 4:39pm on 06 Mar 2010, mulunehy wrote:

    Dear BBC Editors and Martin Plaut,
    Bob Geldof should be angry at the rebel group, TPLF that used the aid money for buying weapons, not at the true report of the BBC. For that matters, we Ethiopians knew all along the way about this crime. But, the international community seem to give a deaf ear to our cry. TPLF is still using the same REST organization to invest billions of dollars in every sector of the Ethiopian economy. The reporter should have included where REST stands now. Mind you, REST is still a business company of TPLF, the party in power. I think this stands a surprise to western standards, but that is the reality in our country. I actually recommend BBC to look in to how this organization operates, where the money comes and how it is used and who are the share holders. That will shed more light to the donor countries who are still tricked.

    complain about this comment

  • 2. At 4:41pm on 06 Mar 2010, Marieme wrote:

    Andrew,

    I totally agree with this response.BBC has the right to inform its readers and I totally admire this approach. Reporting the true or saying it hurts sometimes especially when high figures names are involved in our society now. The end of the day what ever comes from this needs to be a learning from everyone. We need to have a new approach and strategy on AID.We cannot continue to be on the denial, just impossible.
    Thank you very much for posting this! Really wonderful.

    complain about this comment

  • 3. At 5:07pm on 06 Mar 2010, Dennis Junior wrote:

    Peter:

    Thanks, for bringing this important story to the audience across of the BBC regarding the situation and allegations in the 1980’s…..

    (Dennis Junior)

    complain about this comment

  • 4. At 5:33pm on 06 Mar 2010, Henok wrote:

    This disgracefully reporting from BBC clearly shows how gullible and naive some of the BBC reporters are. It is indeed a pity to see two disgruntled, exiled ex-TPLF soldiers defame the good name and most desciplined TPLF leadership of the then time. It is a manifestation how evil and falsehood can at times challenge righteousness and truth. The solid reason as far as I and several NGOs that were giving a helping hand during the time know is that more than 200,000 people from Tigray were moved to the Sudan by TPLF and the NGOs and saved their lives.
    These two disgruntled ex-soldiers are members of the opposition in Ethiopia that are preparing to take part in the 2010 election. BBC has made a serious mistake and upon finding the truth, it still failed to apologize.
    Oh God what a cursed time are we living in where falsehood is blidly trusted and truth sidelined and trumped.
    BBC, please be genuine and apologize.

    complain about this comment

  • 5. At 5:45pm on 06 Mar 2010, arny5000 wrote:

    “It presents evidence, compelling evidence, that some of the famine relief donations were diverted by a powerful rebel group to buy weapons.”

    _Some_? How much is some? 20%? 10%? 1%? 0.1%? 0.001%? It isn’t obvious to the casual reader.

    Surely the degree is relevant? Or do people not care as long as it sounds a good story? I wish in matters of life and death people were more interested in the actual numbers.

    complain about this comment

  • 6. At 6:15pm on 06 Mar 2010, Henok wrote:

    This comment has been referred to the moderators. Explain.

  • 7. At 6:37pm on 06 Mar 2010, Ezana wrote:

    I would disagree on the research bbc analyst has come up the idea 95% of the aid money was diverted for arms use.
    I grew up on the places where aid was desperately needed for survival at that time. Martin can go and cross check on his research because his research is based on the fact that these two members where discredited from the TPLF membership because of their ideology and cruel behavior for the freedom fighters. I remember Mr. Gebremedhin betray his comrades and join the brutal DERG communist in 1988.
    At that time DERG was the leader of Ethiopia. these people needed help from the government at that time, but the response from the government was shooting and bombardment for those people who needed food.
    TPLF was the sole leader in helping the people of Tigray to get aid food, even the fighters were giving their ration to the people who were fleeing to sudan to get aid.
    If Martin want to make a research he can go and ask for survivers who are not one or two they are million still alive who can witness on this issue. We thank to those who donate at that time to save millions.
    Let us help people who are in need of help all over the world.
    peace to the world. Innocent lives shouldn’t be abandoned by reluctant guys who are in need of media attention.

    complain about this comment

  • 8. At 6:48pm on 06 Mar 2010, fine2 wrote:

    i have been hearing such story since the last 20 years. as a matter of fact, we Ethiopians have been also crying for the last 30 years with the dictators and bad administration. the story which has has been posted here in BBC is undeniable fact. go and ask the people there. ask every Ethiopian. they will all tell and justify you this.
    the problem to you people is you don’t really know exactly who are the Ethiopians leaders are. the current economic dynasty of the EPRDF/TPLF namely EFFORT is the result your money Mr Bob. do they tell you about this?

    complain about this comment

  • 9. At 6:52pm on 06 Mar 2010, Haile wrote:

    It is very clear that the BBC report is based on credible evidences. Few months ago, Seeye Abraha who was the commander of the TPLF forces when the rebels captured Addis Ababa in 1991 and who served as the defence minister of Ethiopia for some time has also indicated how the rebels diverted the aid money to other purposes. He said,
    “As a veteran politician and an ex-commander of an insurgent army that brought down the Derg military regime, I know relief aid could be misused to purchase ammunition, weapons, spare parts, fuel and other materials.”

    complain about this comment

  • 10. At 6:55pm on 06 Mar 2010, ET-4142 wrote:

    Henok

    I don’t believe the TPLF leaders are denying the fact that they used the money to purchase weapons. The difference seems only on how much of the money went to it. It seems only Sir Bob Geldof and you are adamantly denying that fact.

    Thank you the BBC and Martin Plaut for such a marvelous work.

    complain about this comment

  • 11. At 7:43pm on 06 Mar 2010, Henok wrote:

    The point that BBC admins are selectively posting the supporters of Plaut’s view is a clear indicator that the people at the BBC are set out to defame TPLF/EPRDF.
    No way BBC. Be fair and refrain from taking a position.

    complain about this comment

  • 12. At 7:51pm on 06 Mar 2010, untouchable_9 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 13. At 8:14pm on 06 Mar 2010, Abebe wrote:

    Dear BBC,

    Thank you and my special regards to Martin Plaut for bringing to light this greedy acts of “vendors of democracy” to Ethiopia. Having seen how Meles Zenawi has been ruling Ethiopia for the last 2 decades, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to learn this. After all, he continued looting Ethiopia on a larger scale. The huge and mega corporations that he runs through his family and friends are all vivid evidences to the culture he developed when he still was a rebel leader. Nothing is new here, he had been looting before and is doing it now.

    complain about this comment

  • 14. At 8:44pm on 06 Mar 2010, Mark wrote:

    Great job BBC!

    HENOK – you know and the world know that the two ex-soldiers are currently in exile and are NOT running in any election. You proved yourself wrong. You are making false statements obviously for a hidden agenda. BBC is run by professional journalist and they are based in a democratic country. They are not living in Ethiopia where journalists get arrested for reporting wrongs of government officials.

    Also, as the world know, one of the unfolded issues in the mysterious TPLF lead government of Ethiopia is how much money the leaders are earning. Ever since the TPLF rebel fighters took over the leadership, their earnings have never been disclosed. There has never been a single elected public servant who registered his/her assets prior to taking public office. The public has been kept in the dark and don’t know how much either the TPLF leaders are making how much assets their organization have. Is this false? No, it is not. Prove me wrong.

    Today, TPLF owns a number of businesses; factories, enterprises, etc. Where did the money come from? Billions of dollars have been invested in the organization’s name and few individuals are in charge of such huge money transaction. Is this wrong? No it is not. Prove me wrong.

    Those, who have direct benefit from these investments, including those inside the country and their agents throughout the world, never want to see TPLF questioned because they will be deprived of their benefits.

    complain about this comment

  • 15. At 8:59pm on 06 Mar 2010, BluesBerry wrote:

    Geldof told The Times that “it would be a tragedy” if people stopped giving to charity because of allegations made by the same broadcaster that inspired him to fight poverty and hunger in Africa.
    On the other hand, I respond would it not be an even greater tragedy if the majority of the money was actually going to warriors vs. starving victims?
    No matter what the outcome of this investigation Geldof did a good thing with good intentions, and that’s what the world will remember. He formed Band Aid and organised the Live Aid concert, raising $250 million for famine victims.
    The evidence from the two senior commanders in the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front saying that the majority of the money was stolen by rebels to buy weapons for their fight to overthrow the Ethiopian Government seems plausible to me; at least I’m having difficulty ascertaining why they would lie at this point.
    Geldof blamed the story on the grievances by the two former rebel commanders, who now live in exile in the Netherlands.
    I’m sure this is not the end of the allegations; the truth will out, and the truth must out: It must out for the very reason that Geldof states: “It would be a tragedy” if people stopped giving to charity because of allegations made…”
    Realted to this, I’ve often wondered where all foreign charity money goes (e.g. Haiti); so, I believe that a full investigation in this instance might start a little snowball down a gigantic hill causing an avalance.

    complain about this comment

  • 16. At 9:15pm on 06 Mar 2010, tatatata wrote:

    Dear Martin and all the Staffs of BBC

    BBC has proved that it is really the leading media.This News is the most credible and catchy news ever.This is what is called Watchdog Journalism.

    I think Martin should further his scope into current issues that are happening in Ethiopia.
    I quote ‘In recent months, the TPLF leaders have aggressively used food aid to recruit party members and to buy votes for the upcoming general election in May. In January of this year, Jason Mclure of Bloomberg News, was arrested in Mekele, Tigray region while on assignment to investigate public complaints over government abuses of Safety Net Programs in which opposition party supporters are excluded from cash and other poverty reduction programs run by Donor Nations and the World Bank.”
    So Martin should go further and investigate this issue too.
    What about the aid being given now…does it still go to buying weapons and fattening the REST/EFFORT(http://www.effortgroup.org/ accounts ?
    Bob Geldof and other aid agencies could be angry sure because its their job but they all should be careful not undermine The Great Journalist Martin.
    This news also supports Dambisa Moyo’s Dead Aid discourse.
    Martin don’t stop with this do follow up journalist.

    complain about this comment

  • 17. At 9:23pm on 06 Mar 2010, Henok wrote:

    Mark,
    Do not kid me, man. Both are memebrs of the ARENA Tigray, Medrek. I know this which you seem you do not know. Moreover, it does not mean that all oppostion members will have to run for an election. According to your head, all the members of the oppositon will contest for an election. No this is not practical, my friend.
    As to the EFFORT issue, you well know how you TPLF got it: by capturing the resources of the dictator Mengistu.
    So still these two deserters will not be at any cost credible sources for the news.

    complain about this comment

  • 18. At 9:36pm on 06 Mar 2010, prestorjhon wrote:

    Dear BBC.

    The timing of your report is so questionable:why wait 26 yrs for an allegation that most Ethiopians knew?Is it because the then rebels,now incumbent governement are facing parliamentary reelection this upcoming May?I smell smear campaingning on behalf of the BBC & western media in general.

    complain about this comment

  • 19. At 9:50pm on 06 Mar 2010, Peter Fox wrote:

    The very nature of those African people in power within the affected regions leads one to at least be sceptical of anyone saying corruption and misappropriation of funds were not prevalent.
    It would also be fair to say that most charitable organisations that operate in Africa are having the wool pulled over their eyes as to how and where any direct financial aid is being spent.
    These aspects in combination would give plausability to the BBC report.
    It is a consistent and mis-guided mistake to apply ‘Western Morality and Ethics’ to Africa – they work to a different code and those in power are certain to be furthering their own cause, largely at the expense of both their own desperate people and the gullible charity administrations.
    I don’t find the report suprising in the slightest and would have expected this to have been known about a long time previously.

    complain about this comment

  • 20. At 9:53pm on 06 Mar 2010, Menelik wrote:

    Nobody’s free until everybody’s free. [Fannie Lou Hamer]

    VOA Amharic Broadcasts Jammed in Ethiopia

    Peter Heinlein | Addis Ababa

    … The other foreign broadcast heard in Ethiopia, the German government’s Deutsche Welle Amharic language program, also reports experiencing some interference, in the past few days.

    Monitors say VOA transmissions in two other Ethiopian languages, Afan Oromo and Tigrinya, are being heard normally. They are broadcast on the same frequencies, before and after the hour-long Amharic program.

    VOA and Deutsche Welle were jammed around the time of the last parliament election in 2005, and again before the 2008 nationwide local elections. The next crucial parliament vote is scheduled for May 23 …

    complain about this comment

  • 21. At 9:57pm on 06 Mar 2010, Menelik wrote:

    Ethiopia Opposition Rethinks Election Campaign After Candidate Killed

    Peter Heinlein | Addis Ababa 02 March 2010

    ARENA-Tigray Party leader Gebru Asrat says candidate for parliament Aregawi Gebreyohannes was stabbed to death by intruders in his home in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

    Gebru says another Arena-Tigray candidate was badly beaten Monday by armed men in another part of the northern Ethiopian region. He says both men had recently been arrested in connection with their political activities.

    complain about this comment

  • 22. At 10:06pm on 06 Mar 2010, Hurisa wrote:

    Your BBC report may be found correct in the facts, but couldn’t understand the purpose of reporting on something happened during the Cold-War era. It’s misleading to assess the cold war facts in the current context. Rather what the BBC and its Reporters should do is reporting how the big companies (the taxpayers of this type of aid) of the west are currently fueling the atrocities in Africa such as DR Congo just to satisfy their row materials’ hunger. What would the tax-payers in west say if they know that most the money to buy the row materials for their IT Gadgets goes to those African brutal warlords? I wish BBC could deeply go into this.

    complain about this comment

  • 23. At 10:06pm on 06 Mar 2010, Yilma wrote:

    I don’t understand why Sir Bob Geldof is complaining, I think he pretty much lack the knowledge of the behaviour of African despot specially about TPLF, instead of covering the behaviour of this government it is better to accept the mistake and craft a serious correction for the future, I believed TPLF regime did worse than what sir Geldof know. By now Everyone should know that, this is not the issue of election and it is a mismanagement of the Ethiopian rebels and today’s government operation for such a long time.

    complain about this comment

  • 24. At 10:19pm on 06 Mar 2010, ian london wrote:

    This is an odd row. I would have been amazed if some of the money had not been diverted. We all gave in the knowledge that if most if it got through to help those that really needed it, a little seepage would be a small price to pay. Quite why Geldof et. al. are so sensitive about it is beyond me.

    complain about this comment

  • 25. At 10:30pm on 06 Mar 2010, Senay wrote:

    There is not an iota of doubt in my mind that AID money had been siphoned off by the Tigrayan rebels (TPLF) to buy ARMS and other stuff. Most of the fighters and especially the leadership of TPLF had seen prior famine occurences (60s and 70s) in their home country Tigray before they became rebels. For them the 1984 famine was just like the other famine, so its effect couldn’t be as dramatic as it was for the western world. They cared less. Not only the ex-rebels confirmed that money was diverted for other purposes, but also the head of the Relief Society of Tigray, REST/EFFORT, Mr Sebhat Nega, who in advertently told an interviewer couple of years agao that TPLF’s REST was the richest organization with ships when they were in the field and in Sudan. In any case, The GREAT FAMINE of 1984/85 was a blessing in disguise for TPLF.

    complain about this comment

  • 26. At 10:50pm on 06 Mar 2010, meninblack wrote:

    Henock,

    Every ethiopian knows that your name is not Henock. Aha, we haven’t heard of that name in TPLF. For me you sound more like Meles him self as we all know Meles and his group follow medias critical of them and try to atack back by pretending like a concerned citizen. For every one of you please watch Meles disguised as Abebe on VOA.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–Btultoo8M

    complain about this comment

  • 27. At 10:53pm on 06 Mar 2010, fine2 wrote:

    I am still stand with this report. let alone the 1980s aid money, it is not a long history that we experienced in 2005 election when Aid money and food had been used to attract voters to EPRDF. this is new to those people who heard and read about it now. thanks to BBC then. don’t you know that Aid food and money had been distributed per person for EPRDF demonstrators for the election 2005? do you really know what is going on in that country today? I can give you what the demonstrator did say during that time “yesterday for my food today for my right”
    I have a very much appreciation for the idea what Sir Bod had made during that time. but, the problem is the EPRDF/TPLF people still didn’t take any lesson what they have done before.

    complain about this comment

  • 28. At 10:59pm on 06 Mar 2010, tatatata wrote:

    Dear Editor
    This comment below is just an extra tip for Martin.I found it on this site(www.ethiopiawinet.net/…/The_Endowment_Fund_for_the_Rehabilitation_of_Tigray.doc) .
    The Ethiopian economy is controlled by TPLF
    *********************************************

    (The Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT) )

    In 1978, the TPLF created the Relief Society of Tigray (REST), a financial umbrella organization of the TPLF which acted as an NGO despite headed by a TPLF Central Committee member. It collected donations from the international community and channeled it to the TPLF, playing a key role in the survival and ultimate victory of TPLF over the Derg.

    After the rise of the TPLF to power in 1991, REST was formally registered with the governmental Relief & Rehabilitation Commission in Ethiopia as an NGO. As the TPLF’ s financial backbone, it continued enjoying the state protection, and the restructured organization emerged as the richest “ NGO” in the continent. In the summer of 1995, about four years after it took control of central power in Ethiopia, the TPLF established a stronger peer for REST – the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT). Sources suggest that EFFORT started its business venture with a lofty investment volume of about 2.7 billion birr — then just under US $1 billion (currently $1 US is about 9 birr).

    Through EFFORT, the TPLF has considerably diversified its economic activities and expanded its outreach even to foreign countries. The European financial maneuver of the TPLF is based in UK where family members are trained and placed in key areas of Ethiopia’ s financial institutions. In some cases, they are assigned to a now growing number of internationalized affiliates co-owned or owned by EFFORT, such as the Tower Trading Company (TTC) – a London-based TPLF owned company mandated with money laundering.

    New companies continue to emerge, fully or partly owned by EFFORT through an intricate system of shares and investments. By controlling key growth areas, EFFORT has become the soul of the country’s economy: agriculture (Hiwot Mechanized Agriculture), industry (Almeda Textiles Manufacturing Sc., Mesfin Industrial Engineering SC.), import-export (Guna Trading House), transport (Trans-Ethiopia SC.), insurance (Africa Insurance SC.), mining (Meskerem Investment SC.), communications (Mega-Net Corporation), banking (Wegagen Bank), just to mention some. Clearly, TPLF’ s business enterprises cover numerous activities including textile, chemicals, pharmaceutical, and food industries. They also cover major service industries such as banking, insurance, transportation, printing, advertising, land developing, import/export, construction, mining, leather products, and farming.

    EFFORT is divided into several sectors directed by members of the TPLF Central Committee, like Abadi Zemo for industrial activities, Arkebe Oqubay Mitiku for construction and transportation, and Tewodros Hagos for mining. The individuals may be moved around, but no non-Tigrean is appointed to EFFORT. In fact, no non-TPLF Tigrean is appointed to the ranks of EFFORT. Strategic positions of the Federal government that generate large amounts of cash are also led by Tigreans of EFFORT who hold multiple offices. For example, Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin is chairman of Ethiopian Air Lines, chairman of the Mugher Cement Factory, chairman of the Ambo Water Factory, chairman of EFFORT, and deputy-chairman of the TPLF at the same time. The more trusted individuals are usually offered the more strategic positions.

    Although EFFORT is strictly controlled by the TPLF, it is not the only entity owned or controlled by high-ranking TPLF officials or favored Tigrean citizens. For example, although EFFORT controls WEGAGEN Bank, the TPLF encouraged the creation of DEDEBIT Credit and Savings Institution, headquartered in Meqele and administered by the local government of Tigray. The bank has numerous financial links with other TPLF controlled businesses of the country. DEDEBIT, as an extension of Rural Credit Program, acquired a near total monopoly over credit to rural areas, mostly farmers. The financial monopoly over rural Ethiopia has serious political ramifications. In the early 2000s, the main source of the bank was interest from fertilizer. Farmers were identified, registered, and forced to make a down payment of 25% on the price for the amount of fertilizer. The Bank estimated the amount of fertilizer the farmer supposedly needed. A credit agreement was written with each farmer, and after six months, the bank collected the debt from the farmers with 15% interest.

    Business in Tigray is completely closed to non-Tigreans, and all walks of Tigrean businesses are exclusively owned by EFFORT or the local Tigrean government. For example, the trading company GUNA has a near monopoly in sesame and incense wholesale in Tigray whereas TRANS Ethiopia carries all goods designated as relief.

    The TPLF also benefits EFFORT by ordering free transfer of funds from government accounts, often under a bogus claim of services that TPLF institutions offered to the public. It allows free flow of goods in the name of EFFORT, without customs and taxes, but EFFORT is allowed to compete with for-profit businesses of the country through its tentacle bureaus. Thus, Moseb Cement factory was built with public expenditure at a cost of 1.5 billion birr, and a Textile factory in Adwa at 1.2 billion. However, the incomes from these public investments are fully controlled by the TPLF through EFFORT.

    EFFORT also makes extensive use of the credit opportunities offered by the state-owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) and other financial institutions controlled by the government. The generous provision of credits by CBE to EFFORT is clearly politically influenced and based upon directives issued by the TPLF controlled government of Ethiopia. When EFFORT defaults in the payment of loans CBE provides relieving credit, obviously upon directives from the Ethiopian government. In some cases, millions of birr loans obtained by EFFORT are unlawfully delayed or even cancelled. In a widely publicized case a few years ago, the Vice-Governor of CBE overruled an earlier decision by the credit department of CBE not to grant 40 million birr credit to SUR Construction, a subsidiary of EFFORT. There is no way escaping the conclusion that the loan was made possible by political intervention from the TPLF regime.

    As an almost sole beneficiary of state contracts, EFFORT’ s income continues to grow exponentially. For example, during the Ethio-Eritrean war, EFFORT became the financial wing of the war. MESFIN Engineering supplied water, fuel, and vehicles. TRANS-Ethiopia supplied trucks, and SELAM Bus was in charge of transporting militia. The income from the war propelled these companies to powerful monopolies of the country in their respective business domains.

    EFFORT has now become a self-contained economic state operating on the call of the official government, formally serving the personal appetite of state officials, a phenomena witnessed nowhere in the world. Its assets are protected federally, and its under-the-table contracts are enforced by TPLF’ s iron fisted militias. It has a favored access to government as well as to foreign aid contracts with profitable niches, dominating joint ventures with domestic and foreign investors. One of the strategic alliances is with Amoudi’ s Midroc which supplies the TPLF with billions of birr through investments. Midroc buys natural resources of the South including gold and other precious stones from the TPLF with cash, and service contracts at these sites go back to EFFORT.

    At a policy level, the Financial Sector Steering Committee (FSSC) serves as an umbrella institute for justification of fund transfers, creating the legal framework for supporting even poorly performing EFFORT auxiliaries, or channeling funds to the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) cash institutes. EPRDF is a bogus amalgam of Fronts populated with non-Tigrean renegades, created and dominated by the TPLF. FSSC defines policies and strategies for banks, appoints board of directors and executives for the banks, and routinely monitors their operations. Thus, the FSSC oversees all government banks, and has full power over their activities. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi chairs this committee. It is a public knowledge that he personally mandated EPRDF companies: Guna, Ambassael, Dinsho, and Wando to take over the sugar company when the plant was privatized. Interestingly Ato Sebhat who owns Guna, Ato Bereket who owns Ambassel, Ato Girma who owns Dinsho, and Ato Kassu who owns Wando are members of FSSC, and some of these same individuals seat on the Board of CBE that financed these companies. As a result, all privately owned enterprises competing for the privatization of the plant, Star, Abeba co. etc. were shut out of the competition.

    The EFFORT companies are reported to owe billions of birr to Ethiopian banks. In fact, most of the EFFORT companies would not survive without government protection. In one case, CBE, the Construction and Business Bank, and the Ethiopian Development Bank collectively loaned 1.7 billion birr to EFFORT. According to insiders, the loan has not been paid to date. The 1.7 billion birr was distributed to Adigrat Pharmaceutical Factory, Adwa Textile Factory, Dashen Brewery, and Mesebo Cement Factory. These and other EFFORT or EPRDF affiliates including TESCO, Tikure Abay, Dansho Transport are constantly in deep financial crisis.

    Although the main focus of this paper is private business ventures of the TPLF, it must be noted that Tigray, the TPLF’ s home region has inequitably benefited from federal funds. For example, a recently published paper presents comparative welfare analysis of four Ethiopian regions: Oromia, Amhara, Southern States, and Tigray. A 2001/2002 data of these regions shows that 42% of children in Tigray are fully vaccinated, where as the percentage is – 10% for Oromia, 15% for Amhara, and 11% for Southern States. Population to physician ratio is 28,600 for Tigray. This jumps to 60,800 for Oromia,, 60,700 for Amhara, and 44,000 for Southern States. Secondary education enrollment for Tigray is about 25% (a six-fold increase in just a decade), but Oromia has 11.6%, Amhara 9%, and Southern States 11%. According to World Bank report “ Ethiopia Public Expenditure review” the Federal government never transferred more than 6% of the country’ s cash revenue to the states, which leaves more than 94% of the federal budget at the discretion of the TPLF, appropriation of which is apparent from the above numbers.

    In conclusion, the TPLF has clearly violated international business rules and practices, and as a ruling political party, it not only owns large amounts of properties and engages in commercial and trading activities whereby it places competing private sectors in a hopeless situation, but it also uses this economic dominance to incarcerate, harass, dominate, and control political opposition forces to stay in power. This injustice justifies continued armed struggle of the people against the TPLF domination, and rejection of foreign expeditions to exploit natural resources of the country on behalf of the TPLF.

    complain about this comment

  • 29. At 11:21pm on 06 Mar 2010, Hurisa wrote:

    Your report is misleading in a sense that it doesn’t give due regards to the context of the cold-wars. During the cold-war period, Africans were fighting the wars of the super-powers; now they are fighting the wars of big-companies in the west that are ruthlessly making money at any cost. And reporting on the later could have been useful for this generation. Moreover, it simply based on incredible sources seen in the light of the fact that the ex-members of TPLF were not retired, but expelled, who shift their camps and still politically active opponents to TPLF.

    complain about this comment

  • 30. At 00:01am on 07 Mar 2010, harami2000 wrote:

    > Peter Horrocks’ Blog
    > The documentary did not say that most famine relief money was used to buy weapons – it did not suggest that any relief agencies [including Christian Aid and Cafod] were complicit in the diversion of funds – it explicitly stated that “whatever the levels of deception, much aid did reach the starving”.

    What does not make sense in this context is that such relief agencies had for many years prior to Ethiopia been well aware than their monies were being used to support insurgencies.

    Take for example the BBC’s April 1979 documentary “Mugabe: Portrait of a ‘Terrorist'” documentary where in ZANU-PFs Mozambique headquarters it is casually mentioned that Christian Aid is going to allow them £20,000 (cash in hand?) and elsewhere in the documentary Josiah Tongogara states clearly that their militia’s “food, clothing, everything” was coming from Britain, America and Sweden, even the shoes he was wearing. All the money funneled through one small office in Maputo going into one pot to help fund the civil war without any indication of checks-and-balances to ensure that such-and-such money will only be spent on “humanitarian causes”.

    It would be a worthwhile question IMHO to expand the investigation to see whether anything was done by such agencies as a result of “lesson learning” between this period and the mid-80s Ethiopian famine, and to ask the same again in a present-day context.

    Regards,
    David.

    complain about this comment

  • 31. At 00:09am on 07 Mar 2010, Mark wrote:

    Henok,

    Again, you need to admit when you are wrong unless you are deliberately misleading.

    None of the two ex-soldiers, none of them are members of the so called opposition, ARENA Tigray, Medrek. Clearly, you are either assuming wrong, or trying to blame it on oppositions just like TPLF officials always do to avert attention from an important subject.

    Once again, the moral of the story is TPLF neither cared for its own tigray people in the beginning nor is saving them right now through the billions of dollars it got inexplicably. BBC, or any reliable news source has a moral and professional obligation to unfold truth. Especially cases like this are significant because even though it happened long time ago, it is still affecting the country one way or another.

    As far as the EFFORT issue, here are the facts that you can’t deny:

    1- Who is the CEO – the Prime Minister’s wife (very funny)
    2- How much assets, capital do they have- It has never been disclosed. The people are kept in the dark.
    3- Source of money. – It has never been disclosed. They claim that they got it from derg, which in that case everything was supposed to be the Ethiopian people money.
    4- Do they pay tax? – It has never been disclosed.

    This is what you said above: “As to the EFFORT issue, you well know how you TPLF got it: by capturing the resources of the dictator Mengistu”.

    Then, wasn’t that money, asset etc supposed to be the Ethiopian people money if it was confiscated from Mengistu? How come TPLF and its few members own it? TPLF liberated Gondar city, or Jimma, etc, does that mean the city belongs to TPLF? No it to the Ethiopian people.

    complain about this comment

  • 32. At 00:29am on 07 Mar 2010, mulugeta wrote:

    This is the most aweful news i ever heard though BBC had never been positive for Ethiopia through the history.

    Few important comments
    1) The rebel group was well supported from Arab and US for military support and also at that moment they did not need sophisticated weapons. Moreover the rebel group have surplus weapons captured from the military regime.
    2) the two witness are both polictally polarized with the existing government and they always oppose any good work of th current government. Both are almost insane and both are divorced with their wifes.
    3) The news is released at this moment b/c BBC want to destablize the country during the coming election (2month ahead) like Kenya and Zimbabiwe. BBC are successful by doing that.
    4) No Body in Ethiopia have never heard and told as rumor in the Ethiopian land about this fabricated story

    The truth will come out and God bless Ethiopia!

    complain about this comment

  • 33. At 00:44am on 07 Mar 2010, mulugeta wrote:

    Very outdated and non relevant report….

    complain about this comment

  • 34. At 01:03am on 07 Mar 2010, moriaeencomium wrote:

    Most interesting, so latent period lasts some 25 years, that is, if you have a story based on compelling evidence.

    complain about this comment

  • 35. At 02:04am on 07 Mar 2010, moriaeencomium wrote:

    ‘But there is a clear public interest in determining whether some money given as famine relief ended up buying guns and bullets.

    And that’s what the evidence suggests.’

    Well if you put it that way, do tell, would there be a clear public interest in determining which administrates decided to kill their own people to kill other people?

    complain about this comment

  • 36. At 02:36am on 07 Mar 2010, Hadgu wrote:

    Dear Mr. Horrocks
    I agree the BBC has a duty to report on issues wheather they are sensitive or not, however it is unbecoming of such an institution to report inflammatory and poorly researched article. The refusal of Mr. Geldof doesn’t by any means coraborate the allegations and I don’t think it should be used as justification.
    Your statment “Martin tracked down two key former members of the TPLF who explained how they managed to divert the money” is a hogwash as I am certain you knew these two very disgruntled former commanders have an axe to grind. It is a fact that Mr.A. Berhe has been spewing lies and false accusations since he left the TPLF.
    Mr. Gebremedhin had joined the then marderous Colonel Mengistu Hailemariams communist government after he defected from the TPLF and he had actively participated in writing and deceminating propaganda to defame the TPLF in the 1980ies and 1990ies until the down fall of the Derge, and I am sure the BBC or Mr. Plaut could have easily found out if they cared for the truth.
    Did Mr. Plaut ask himself why it took 25 years for these two individuals, who tirlessley wrote every nonsense accusation againast the TPLF for that long a duration of time did not care to adress this more daming accusation than all their load of rubbish until this moment. He may tell us they came forward on his instigation but I would like to direct you that they have been on the fore front of writing, speaking and attacking the TPLF with all the amunitions they can muster including spreading lies, since their day of rupture from the TPLF, If this allegation had a scintilla of truth to it, they would have come swinging long time ago with out any bodys coxing.
    It is a shame such an institution of vercity in reporting, that we considered a beacon of hope for freedom and democracy during the dark days of our struggle as a people has turned a pen bully that is not accountable to the norms of proper, verifed and veted reporting.
    I am sure you decided to responed not because what you stirred in Ethiopia mattered but because many NGO’s have complained. The fact that you show defrence based on who complains rather than what truth there is is dismaying.

    I find the BBC’s motive and timing dubious as this story as alleged happened 25 years ago, the research took the last two years and only two desgrunteled ex-fighters intrviewed and to top it all the timing is just during election in Ethiopia. Mr. Plaut can pull a blanket but not over our eyes.

    complain about this comment

  • 37. At 03:32am on 07 Mar 2010, Yohanneseco wrote:

    Dear BBC
    You Did very well. Good job. Sir Bob Gedolf we thank for your concern and on what you did. Butdo not try to be rigid n how the fund was spend. Your responsibility were rasing fund. You did it very well more than anybody did it. Again we thank you. Yo desrev more than this. But you have no idea and information on how was the aid was distributed.

    You do not know TPLF. Iti a very dangerous Organization.

    FOR BBC Journalists

    Again let me tell you one history. During Derg Period there was a mass massacar in a market area called Hauzen by Derg in Northern Party of Ethiopia. But there is a very strong rumour that was done b TPLF in a very planned and mysterious way. At that time he TPLF coudnot able to gather many solidgers. They desiged a method and they themslves killed the people.

    I am sure you will get a very puzziling and surprising thing if you try to investigate” WHo is Responsible and by whom the Hawuzen Massacar occred?”. Try to investigate.

    Thanks BBC. hanks The Editorial. Thanks All.U did good Let you search the truth always

    complain about this comment

  • 38. At 03:58am on 07 Mar 2010, hull wrote:

    What a shameful act by the BBC. such accusations without the backing of concrete evidence is dangerous and seems to me has been a very insulting to the Ethiopian people. stating that the goverment they have came to power by stepping on the Corpse of its people is frankly discusting.

    complain about this comment

  • 39. At 04:38am on 07 Mar 2010, alemayehu wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 40. At 04:40am on 07 Mar 2010, Tola Biya wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 41. At 06:17am on 07 Mar 2010, Alan Byrom wrote:

    It’s a foregone conclusion that any aid going to Third World countries, for whatever reason, becomes a prey to corrupt leaders and organizers. And we should thank BBC for doing some investigative journalism. In fact we could use a review of all aid programs and how the money is spent in order to better organise it any next time. But it is easy to understand Sir Bob’s outright condemnation, pop stars have big egos, add to that a messianic complex, and you are on your way to infallible sainthood. A terrible blow to Bob’s achievement, but the altruistic motive remains untarnished.

    complain about this comment

  • 42. At 06:25am on 07 Mar 2010, TrueToo wrote:

    This is a truly ironic controversy. Here we have the left wing, bleeding heart BBC experiencing the wrath of the left wing, bleeding heart Bob Geldof and company. And why? Only because of a rare case of investigative journalism by the BBC, which generally has its collective head in the sand regarding negative news from Africa. The BBC has broken faith here with the “liberal” left community and that is just unforgivable.

    I was fascinated by this comment from Geldof in the “Independent:”

    “At the time of Live Aid we had journalists crawling all over everything we did trying to find something wrong – and they couldn’t.”

    I have no doubt that is nonsense. I’m sure the journalists at the time entered into the spirit of the aid relief programme and faithfully reported only the good news, never digging too deeply into the situation.

    This is not to deny the genuine humanitarian work done by Geldof and others but anyone familiar with Africa knows that a huge slice of aid inevitably gets diverted to suspect causes and lines the pockets of the powerful. The unwritten rule among the left is you can’t talk about it. The BBC has broken this rule and that, of course, is what the fuss is all about.

    complain about this comment

  • 43. At 06:55am on 07 Mar 2010, Ghandi wrote:

    This comment has been referred to the moderators. Explain.

  • 44. At 06:58am on 07 Mar 2010, bebeye wrote:

    THANK YOU BBC AND MY SPECIAL REGARD TO MARTIN PALUT WHO TAKE THE TIME TO DO HIS RESEARCH AND EXPOSE WHAT HAD HAPPEN.WE ETHIOPIANS ARROUND THE WORLD BEEN PRAYING FOR THIS DAY TO COME,NO MEDIA WAS WILLING TO TELL OUR STORY OF ABUSE ,TORTURE,GENOCIDE,JAIL TIME ETC IN ETHIOPA…BY THE DICTATOR MELESE ZENAWI KEEP DOING YOUR RESEARCH AND YOU WILL FIND OUT A LOT OF UNTOLD STORIES OF BRUTALITTY .I BELIEVE THE WORLD NEED TO KNOW AND IS INTITELD TO KNOW THE TRUE STORY OF ETHIOPIAN,I HOPE YOU WILL ALSO DO YOUR RESEARCH ABOUT THE GENOCIDE WHICH HAPPEN IN ETHIOPIA. WE ETHIOPIANS IN THE DIASPORA ARE WILLIGN TO SHARE WITH YOU SOME INFORMATION AND, AGAIN ON BEHALF OF ALL ETHIOPIANS WHO ARE VOICELESS I WOULD LIKE TO BE THEIR VOICE AND SAY THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART.

    complain about this comment

  • 45. At 07:21am on 07 Mar 2010, AYAKURATE wrote:

    THIS IS THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG.TPLF,THE CURRENT ETHIOPIAN REGIME ,HAS COMMITTED MANY ATROCITIES LIKE THIS. IT MAY BE NEWS FOR THE WEST BUT NOT FOR THE ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE.
    IT IS A GOOD START.IF YOU WANT TO DIG A LITTLE MORE YOU WILL BE MORE SURPRISED.

    complain about this comment

  • 46. At 08:25am on 07 Mar 2010, Ghandi wrote:

    What AYAKURATE commented is the raw truth. I can only plead BBC and its Editors to do more comprehensive investigations on the deeds of TPLF as rebel, particularly from 1976-19981 and you will unravel the most heinous crimes ever committed in the killing fields of TPLF

    complain about this comment

  • 47. At 08:27am on 07 Mar 2010, Ghandi wrote:

    Dear Andrew,
    Excellent job on aid and TPLF.
    Let me kindly inform you that the report on the stealing of aid money by TPLF is a peanut from the long list of crimes committed by TPLF. TPLF has killed tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of civilians who even expressed opinions slightly divergent from its political stance.

    complain about this comment

  • 48. At 08:27am on 07 Mar 2010, Ghandi wrote:

    Your informants, particularly Aregawi Berhe, is himself the insurmountable witness regarding the killings of civilians, and non-combatants during his leadership and afterwards. He with the most notable leader of TPLF Sibhat Nega, was the masters of the killing fields of TPLF in the eastern and central zones of Tigray in 1976-1982. It is time for Berhe and Araya to tell the truth to BBC, and for BBC to conduct rather a more formal and comprehensive investigation on the killing fields of TPLF. I as human rights expert have found thousands of people ready to speak out about their victimization at the hands of the rebel leaders of TPLF.

    complain about this comment

  • 49. At 08:33am on 07 Mar 2010, SotonBlogger wrote:

    This comment has been referred to the moderators. Explain.

  • 50. At 09:51am on 07 Mar 2010, past fame wrote:

    The following tiny report shows how TIGRAI relief organization has grown into one of the potent economic empire and by extension military and repressive power..
    here is the link

    horn-africa.blogspot.com/2009/07/mohamed-al-amoudi-and-tplf-business.html

    complain about this comment

  • 51. At 10:27am on 07 Mar 2010, andrew wrote:

    I watched Geldof on Andrew Marr today. Why did he refuse to take part in the original report? The point at which he started ranting about celebritiy journalism which is usually about vacuous children like his own I stopped listening.

    complain about this comment

  • 52. At 10:41am on 07 Mar 2010, Daisy Chained wrote:

    What an extraordinary item this is.

    We have a “row” over a World Service documentary that claims it is in “the public interest” to know that “some money” was used for “weapons” instead of famine relief, twenty five years ago. We have a clearly uptight Corporation upset about Bob Geldorf, unsurprisingly, suggesting it is “a Ross-Brand moment”.

    Perspective seems to be missing here. One year’s journalism has revealed a somewhat unsurprising “leak” of cash in a war torn country to the wrong purposes a long time ago, a country that saw just how much corruption?

    Is the BBC really so desperate for “scoops” and is this really so “in the public interest” that it warranted this kind of front page scrap?

    complain about this comment

  • 53. At 10:45am on 07 Mar 2010, Amadu wrote:

    Dear Martin Paut and BBC stuff,

    Your report on this particular issue is not only supported by the facts and figures on the ground but can also be witnessed by several millions of Ethiopians who are still alive.

    I have no any doubt that Bob Geldof and his company has done it at that time for the very good intentions to help the very needy and starving population in the northern part of the Ethiopia of the Tigray region. But the fact that that huge sum of money diverted to the purchase of ammunition while the people was starving to death wouldn’t have insenced Sir Geldof and other humanitarian aid organizations on the BBC reporting. I think from that point of view, they have missed the real target who is responsible for this tragedy. It is not BBC! The Marxist Leninist organization TPLF (Tigray Peopl’s Libration Front), which still rules Ethiopia under the same name Meles Zenawi, was and is responsible for this huge tragedy.

    Martin Plaut has done an excellent job for shading light on what was going on and I think there are still a huge stories to fish out which would shock all those who have been supporting the Zenawi regime.

    I think, the fact that BBC has misrepresented the story is just as nonsense as insulting the morality of all those who have been helping the poor with GOOD INTENTION. Even though the story took long to get out, it is still a great effort that would definitely help to devise another strategy for helping the people in need of help instead of fattening the bank accounts of those corrupt regimes who benefit at the cost of the suffering population.

    The facts are as follows:

    The TPLF is the owner of EFFORT, a conglomerate of several tens of huge companies controlled by the members of the regime in power, which has controlled almost all the economic spheres in Ethiopia. What was the financial source of EFFORT??? The aid money which was supposed to be for the needy!!! Why Ethiopia is still in need of food help after two decades since TPLF, under a bogus and trickery name EPRDF, has been in power???? In the same time how the TPLF members are getting richer and richer by the time more than 80 million Ethiopians are getting poorer and poorer???

    This is one of the rare and true journalism I ever see these days in the continent like Africa where donors and the ruthless regimes of that continent are at odds with the needs and aspiration of the very needy population.

    Those who deny the fact that this tragedy has happened must be those who are still benefiting from the regime in power or those who think missed their target like Bob Geldof.

    Please continue your investigation not only on the past but also how the ex-rebel and the current regime in Ethiopia is operating these days, how the financial support from donor countries is being used and for what purpose, how the huge sum of money is collected by the TPLF members and their families, why donor countries close their eyes until another huge tragedy is happening???

    complain about this comment

  • 54. At 10:55am on 07 Mar 2010, sabinechar wrote:

    People interested in the topic addressed by this article might also be interested in the work of Amartya Sen and Alex de Waal. In both cases, their basic premise is that famines are never natural disasters as such – they happen only when there are wars/refugee situations, and when governments manipulate availability of food for political purposes. Ethiopia in 1984 was a classic example of this – diminished food availability manipulated by the government of Mengistu to try to suppress the Tigray uprising. This is not to diminish the fact that people were starving – just to question the way in which the international community tackled it, by bringing in food aid rather than addressing the root problem.

    People who have referred to the politics of the Cold War are also right – this inevitably had an impact on the famine in Ethiopia and how different actors behaved. For example, it didn’t surprise me to learn that the CIA knew that some aid money was being diverted to the TPLF for buying arms – the US government would have supported the TPLF because they were fighting a government which was heavily supported by the Soviet Union.

    It is also worth saying that times have moved on since 1984, and governments and aid agencies are much more accountable to the people who donate and the people who receive than they once were. This is not to say that mistakes no longer happen in the aid world – but that fewer mistakes are made now. My guess is that people who donate are generally aware of this as well – and if they are not, they can find out from whichever agencies they donate to, so the fear expressed by Geldof and others that people will no longer donate is unlikely to come true.

    complain about this comment

  • 55. At 11:07am on 07 Mar 2010, azmach wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 56. At 11:16am on 07 Mar 2010, Amy Cosstick wrote:

    This is what the Ethiopian peope have known for years. It is not just Band Aid money that has been used for arms, other forms of aid from different organisations has gone to sustain the rebels and corruption.

    Ethiopia has received more food aid than any other African country in the past 10-20 years, but yet its agricultural production has declined in the past 10 years, this is a direct result of reliance and dependency on aid and improper use of aid by the TPLF. Maybe other solutions should be looked at (e.g. Dambisa Moyo- ‘Dead Aid’)

    complain about this comment

  • 57. At 11:32am on 07 Mar 2010, Gebre wrote:

    I would like to thank the BBC for exposing such a despicable act by the former rebels. I believe it is a true story, it is in the nature of these rebel groups to commit such crime against humanity. The Ethiopian people know this truth for more than 20 years, the same kind of looting and embezzlement is going on today too. It is good that it has been brought to the attention of the the world people through this report.

    complain about this comment

  • 58. At 11:32am on 07 Mar 2010, zammd1 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 59. At 11:37am on 07 Mar 2010, cris23 wrote:

    mr bob geldof your aid money was given to the tyrant meles zenawi who killed many ethiopians and continue to kill many ethiopians its sad to see you supporting the tyrant meles zenawi i strongly believe its very wrong to support the tyrant meles its time to clear your conscious, and support the people of ethiopia,and i thank the bbc marthin plaut of such a great investigation, it is clear that bbc report was based on credible evidence of top TPLF exild leaders. god will avenge the poor ethiopians blood finaly i say mr geldof stop supporting the tyrant meles zenawi thanks bbc

    complain about this comment

  • 60. At 11:41am on 07 Mar 2010, Greene wrote:

    Great job BBC

    We Ethiopian knows and the world knows what weyane/Ethiopian mafia group 100% they did it, we do not need any further investigation thank you BBC for exposing the truth.

    Also, as the world know, one of the unfolded issues in the mysterious TPLF lead government of Ethiopia is how much money the leaders are earning. Ever since the TPLF rebel fighters took over the leadership, their earnings have never been disclosed. There has never been a single elected public servant who registered his/her assets prior to taking public office. The public has been kept in the dark and don’t know how much either the TPLF leaders are making how much assets their organization have. Is this false? No, it is not. Prove me wrong.

    Today, TPLF owns a number of businesses; factories, enterprises, etc. Where did the money come from? Billions of dollars have been invested in the organization’s name and few individuals are in charge of such huge money transaction. Is this wrong? No it is not. Prove me wrong.

    Those, who have direct benefit from these investments, including those inside the country and their agents throughout the world, never want to see TPLF questioned because they will be deprived of their benefits.

    complain about this comment

  • 61. At 11:44am on 07 Mar 2010, Henok wrote:

    Mark and company,
    Look. You cannot advance your political agenda by merely jumping at opportunistic fabrications that early leavers of the TPLF made up. I hope you must have heard the reply of Bob Geldof to BBC today. Not a single coin was diverted to arms purchase. The problem you people have is you do not know the intricate and well founded nature of the TPLF.

    To your surprise, TPLF had a sophsticated weapond it captured from the soldiers of the Derg regime. Thanks to the ill-trained and demoralized Derg soldiers, TPLF had good weapons that the then Soviet Union was shipng to Ethiopia. It is insane to think that TPLF diverts the aid it was getting and risks the lives of the people it was fighting for for years. No No. This is really what TPLF can never think of let alone doing. My friends, the two exTPLF soldiers have a long lasting grudge and they want to hit while the iron is hot. They want to use the heat of the 2010 election to smear TPLF and its brilliant leader Meles Zenawi with whom Aregawi dabated for two days and lost. Then he was not even maltreated. Following his preference to leave the struggle, he was seen off to the Sudan and then to Holand to lead his civilian life. It was the next day after his arrival in Holland that he began to reflect his personal political resentments and grudges.
    If you think this person is still a credible source, well nothing can be said except doubting the discritionary level of your conscience.
    Thank you

    complain about this comment

  • 62. At 11:45am on 07 Mar 2010, TrueToo wrote:

    This reminds of another controversy early last year when the BBC decided not to broadcast the DEC appeal for aid to Gaza after the Israeli attack. This evoked an extraordinary response from the pro-Palestinian left, with people hurling insults at the BBC and Mark Thompson on his blog on the issue. His blog received well over 2000 comments, the majority of them verging on the hysterical and the accusations ranging from callous indifference to the plight of the Palestinians to Thompson being scared of the Israelis. Many people insisted they would never again tune into the BBC:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2009/01/bbc_and_the_gaza_appeal.html

    So I’m wondering where the outrage is from left wingers over the current BBC slap in the face to political correctness. Perhaps we should give it time. After all, this blog started over the weekend. Or perhaps all those who bitterly condemned the BBC over Gaza really have moved on to media they feel more comfortable with.

    complain about this comment

  • 63. At 11:47am on 07 Mar 2010, zammd1 wrote:

    Hurraaa ,.. Martin
    You have finally echoed against the dirty track the TPLF taken since
    its inception.I salute u for standing on d side of truth deterring
    the hard and long fists of so called “aid organizations” and Bob Gidolf.

    Its a pity Mr.Gedolf and the zen aid officials are sympathizing with the
    brutal and repressive regime by trying to deny the hard and fast facts.

    One thing is fore sure:the scums and atrocities committed by TPLF against the Ethiopian ppl are surfacing,regardless of z odds, hmm.

    I suggest Mr .Bob can be even a saint if he he dares to admit that he had been somehow mislead or watever by these born-looters, TPLF.

    Bless U Martin
    God Bless Ethiopia

    complain about this comment

  • 64. At 11:52am on 07 Mar 2010, BOSSE wrote:

    #
    #

    It is no wonder if any charity organization including Sir Bob Gildof realize that they have been puzlled by the rebles then, who in my opinion have done the right thing at the time. I urge them now to acknoledge the truth and admit the fact.

    The Ethiopian people knew that the then rebles but now the government leaders are still cheating the international community by telling lies and giving misleading information all the time. The cunning mentor Sibhat Nega and the bizare Meles Zenawi who is suffering from bipolar disorder pretend as if they are doing well, but they have robbed all the wealth and resources of the country. Forget about the past it would be even wiser to listen the Ethiopian people than the so called leaders who are still devising different cheating methods to win support from influential groups. It should be noted that prominant figures like Mr Jimmy Carter have also been puzlled.Finally the result is an oxy-moron “rebel’s government” which is also a pradox.

    complain about this comment

  • 65. At 12:02pm on 07 Mar 2010, lema wrote:

    Dr Aregawi Berhe is a credible source not only because he was a top military commander of the TPLF but also because he did his recent PHD thesis on the poltical history of TPLF

    complain about this comment

  • 66. At 12:07pm on 07 Mar 2010, tatatata wrote:

    Hello BBC and ”Dear ” BOB

    I have read Bob’s interview with Andrew this morning.Mr Geldof told BBC One’s Andrew Marr show he would personally sue the Ethiopian government and spend the money on aid if any evidence was produced.Wow sir if you do then we will love you more.We would say , you just don’t seek money but seek the truth.Bob please collaborate with Martin and Dr Aregawi Behre and dig the truth.

    Mr Geldof, who was speaking to the BBC from Nairobi, also said one of the sources quoted in the report was a “dissident political exile” who was “not credible”.
    For your information , Dr Aregawi Berhe is the most Credible source you can have ever.
    Dr Aregawi Berhe is a credible source not only because he was a top military commander of the TPLF but also because he did his recent PHD thesis on the poltical history of TPLF.
    You can check this site if you want more info. about him:http://tsehaipublishers.com/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=59&Itemid=57 .

    By the way who is this source ,which Bob called ”incredible”.Aregawi Berhe, Ph.D., a former student at Haile Selassie I University, he left school to join the TPLF as a founding member and combated the emerging military dictatorship in Post 1974 Ethiopian Revolution. Until he was forced into exile, he served the Front as its Commander. Currently, he is involved in ongoing efforts to advocate political reform and democratization in Ethiopia. He is a founding member of the TAND political party (Tigraian Alliance for National Democracy, active also in the Ethiopian diaspora) and member of the Ethiopian opposition coalition the United Ethiopian Democratic Front (UEDF), a “wing” of which has seats in the current Ethiopian parliament. He lives in The Netherlands.
    A Political History of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (1975-1991): Revolt, Ideology, and Mobilisation in Ethiopia, is a comprehensive and critical study that seamlessly integrates the theoretical issues of ethnic self-determination with real life events, processes and empirical observations of the complex history of the TPLF. Its author, Aregawi Berhe, received his doctorate in Social Studies from the Vrije University in Amsterdam. He is also one of the founders and a former commander of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the revolutionary movement that overthrew and replaced the Dergue—the military dictatorship that ruled Ethiopia. In this book, Aregawi unpacks the history of the TPLF and discusses its origins in the Ethiopian student movement, its organization in Tigray and the mobilization of its inhabitants, the creation of a peasant army, the factional struggles within the TPLF, its relations with other liberation movements, and, ultimately, its success in capturing state power. Using this history as a guideline, Aregawi handles significant areas of theoretical dispute regarding ethnic self-determination and its various interpretations, which he deftly articulates with a critical and comprehensive discussion of the complex issues that arise from the protracted struggle to overthrow a repressive military regime (the Dergue) with a peasant-based guerilla movement.

    The book discusses, among other things, the question of ethnicity and the conflicting interpretations of ethnic self-determination, the issues raised by the competing and overlapping claims of the various liberation movements; the tension between a radical elite ideology and the beliefs and expectations of the peasantry; the political mobilization of the peasantry and the creation of a peasant army; the relevance of the Marxist notion of the universality of class-struggle in the context of ethnically-oriented politics; the TPLF’s transformation from a regional ethnic movement to a political party that spearheads a pan-Ethiopian coalition of ethnic liberation movements (The Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front); and its transition from a guerilla movement to a political party that governs Ethiopia—the second most populous country in Africa. Descriptively rich, well documented, and subtly argued, this is a book that challenges its readers to reexamine the recent history of Ethiopia in a new light and forces them to consider the momentous political tasks and the uncertain future the country now faces.

    REVIEWS:
    This unique study by the founder and former commander of the TPLF is a must read for all those wishing to better understand the background to Ethiopia’s political regime today. Dr. Aregawi Berhe presents us with an informative and insightful insider’s account of the origins and development of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, including critical divergences on objectives and strategy that have played a key role in shaping its course.
    —Prof. Martin Doornbos, Institute of Social Studies, The Netherlands

    Readers of this book will be exposed to a rigorous analysis of issues such as ethno-nationalism, self determination, and secession. Those interested in the history of the TPLF, the leaders during its inception, its encounter with different organizations, and the “controversial role” of the current leaders in power in Ethiopia will find the book informative. This book is timely, comprehensive, insightful, and balanced. It is an important contribution to the study of secretive guerrilla fighters assuming state power and grappling with the complexities of governing a country.
    —Dr. Getachew Metaferia, Morgan State University, USA

    A few works have already been published on the TPLF. But this book stands out as a first hand account of the movement’s history, especially of the early years. Written by one of the founders of the movement, it reflects a perspective that we should at least listen to and understand. Very rich in content, this book is bound to be controversial, especially given the author’s history and profile. Undoubtedly, it will introduce a serious debate – hopefully a healthy one – that will go on for a long time to come. Aregawi Berhe’s work is a pioneering contribution in the realm of scholarship on the history of the organisation reigning supreme in present day Ethiopia.
    —Prof. Dr. Tesfatsion Medhanie, University of Bremen, Germany

    So Bob Geldof and the rest of you if you really stand with the poor , go on peruse this case.Investigate , Investigate and Investigate.

    complain about this comment

  • 67. At 12:12pm on 07 Mar 2010, enatethiopia_2 wrote:

    Thanks Andrew Whitehead, for bringing this important story to the audience across of the BBC regarding the situation.
    The Problem with West is that they sacrifice human life for current purpose. But condmen and bring court afterward. Their current justice apply only to their people, not someone elsewhere. That is hypocrecy in their human rights discourse. They encourage leaders to violate human rights as far as they get what they desire to get. That is their logic. They will do away current system in Ethiopia if they wish to do so. But now they are making good cake. We do not know when they will change their mind.It is still happening. Of course you are all covering it up today. After 25 years, you will certainly write about it. The truth is today more than half of the aid money goes into the pockets of tplf leaders. A significant amount also goes to protect the dictatorship aparatus of this brutal criminal entity. Westerners feed such monster and help torture our poor starving people. Thank You BBC for exposing this. Although we knew this all along, the rest of the world knows now If ICC is free and fair, Meles and his gangs should go to the court more than any one in this era for his inhumane brain, for both genocide (he made while in jungle and the worst one while on power) and the ecological crime he is inflicting on our environment and eco-system,
    again we are thankful for BBC.

    complain about this comment

  • 68. At 12:24pm on 07 Mar 2010, danit wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 69. At 12:25pm on 07 Mar 2010, elias wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 70. At 12:29pm on 07 Mar 2010, Meketachew wrote:

    ******Very important tip to BBC!!******

    The mid 1980’s jet bombing of the market town of Hawezen in Tigray, which claimed more than 2000 lives was perpetrated by TPLF leaders themselves for propaganda reason to recruit more and more Tigray youth- as Gebremedhen Araya(former TPLF finance head) repeatedly revealed in several occasions. Please ask this man about the incident and get detail information.

    complain about this comment

  • 71. At 12:29pm on 07 Mar 2010, danit wrote:

    For comments from the western world

    Please don’t rush to criticize our African leaders or freedom fighters, instead try to educate yourself. Save yourself from ignorance and arrogance.

    complain about this comment

  • 72. At 12:30pm on 07 Mar 2010, B_Alisson wrote:

    What I don’t understand is, “Why are Sir Geldof and AID organisations
    shooting at the messenger?”

    It is indeed very likely that a lot of AID money in Africa (and for that
    matter in other parts of the World receiving AID) is being siphoned to
    finance merciless and illegal WARS and guerilla movements etc.

    Is it that the AID Organisations fear that people will stop giving if
    they endorse BBC’s report and are trying to save their own skins here?

    Moreover, corruption is present in many AID organisations and siphoning
    of money through embezlement is not uncommon by their own staff.
    Look at how the “RED CROSS” was ripped off recently in SWEDEN.
    Just to name one. Amnesty is another that is said to have been ripped
    off a few years ago by own leadership.

    I think that the AID organisations (normally competing with each other)
    have come up here only to save their own skin. They probably don’t give
    t’pence to what happens to the money they receive, as long as their
    salaries and expenses are covered.

    complain about this comment

  • 73. At 12:42pm on 07 Mar 2010, Zemenu wrote:

    No one can hide truth forever, this report uncovers what was behind aid in 1985. The aid provided to save some millions of people in 1985 is being used to rule more than 80 million of Ethiopian people under yoke.We Ethiopian expect even more, try to do much on what is going on in Ethiopia now. Thank you.

    complain about this comment

  • 74. At 12:53pm on 07 Mar 2010, maurinhoforPM wrote:

    For all those who really know African politics, it is simply a realignment of Tigrey dissidents into the Amhara camp.After the Haile Selassie/Mengistu period the ‘new’ boys in town are the Tigreyens. And believe me Zenawi & Co will not give up power. For peace to prevail, what is needed is a Kenyan style attempt at coming up with a new constitution that will enable all the different tribal components of the diverse country to have their piece of the pie. But the African capital cities (where 40% of their GDP is generated due to Government spending/ministries/parliament/multinational jobs/education opportunities/access to loan capital etc etc) also need to be equitably accessible by all. Currently (except for the lucky Tanzanians) the tribe living around the capital rules the economic roost. Geography precludes faraway tribes from ‘eating’ the capital city and a new approach is required.

    complain about this comment

  • 75. At 12:57pm on 07 Mar 2010, Amadu wrote:

    I for one disagree with the nick name “Henok”. It sounds that he is battling with the reality to save someone else or himself for the apparent reason that so much unchecked privilege of amassing aid money should continue for personal gratification and for sustained political repression, not to speak all other crimes being committed under the current regime. I leave that to mention here as it would be out of topic.

    Beside to this good piece of journalistic investigation, there are many Ethiopians watching this forum and know this story very well since long time ago let alone the very direct source coming out from the very ex-peers and rebel members of TPLF, the CIA and US ex-diplomatic sources.

    Is Bob Geldof stand by Meles Zenawi or defending his aborted humanitarian action of that period? If its to defending Meles Zenawi, that would be another tragedy beside to what happened at that circumstances. If its defending himself, everybody would understand that his dream was not realizes as he thought. Mr. Geldof should have instead taken this as a lesson on the risk of associating any operation with corrupt rebels and now rulers of Ethiopia. It may take another 20 years but, if he is still alive, he would definitely discover another shocking story concerning the Zenawi regime.

    So sad that the money getting out even from the western kids of that period to save the starving went to fatten the cruel regime to suppress the whole population and turn the country in to prison. It is due to this fact that Mr. Geldof should have regretted.

    Thank you BBC. Thank you Martin Paut.

    complain about this comment

  • 76. At 1:01pm on 07 Mar 2010, Luis wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 77. At 1:08pm on 07 Mar 2010, Gebre wrote:

    Mr Henok,

    You look a loner around here. You are trying in vain to save the face of the dictator (Meles). But not this time. You should at least accept the evidence of the Photo displayed on the report. Both of them are rebel members and at least one of them is still alive. You should ask your conscience and try to be silent if not denounce the very evil act of TPLF.

    complain about this comment

  • 78. At 1:10pm on 07 Mar 2010, cris23 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 79. At 1:52pm on 07 Mar 2010, trikidiki wrote:

    I do hope for the BBC’s sake they’ve got their ducks in a row on this one. if they haven’t then it’ll be yet another disaster for them. New International and the Conservatives will crucify them if it turns out that the BBC can’t prove their allegations and it is merely “likely” that funds were diverted. their sources and evidence should be gold-plated on this one as Band Aid and Live Aid were such huge world events. to find out that BA/LA’s reputation is being sullied on the basis of rumour and shadowy sources will do the beeb no end of harm (it’ll be a Gilligan affair pt 2 – no matter that Gills was correct but at the time he, and the Beeb were hoist by their own journalistic hubris by AC, a master tactician). It may well be highly likely funds were diverted but likelihood is not proof and St Bob is trusted more than a beleaguered BBC. A gift to Steve Hilton and Uncle Rupe. Unfortunately.

    complain about this comment

  • 80. At 2:08pm on 07 Mar 2010, enatethiopia_2 wrote:

    enatethiopia_2

    Andrew Whitehead, for bringing this important story to the audience across of the BBC regarding the situation.
    The Problem with West is that they sacrifice human life for current purpose. But they condemn and bring to court afterwards. Their current justice apply only to their people, not for someone, elsewhere. That is hypocrisy in their human rights discourse. They encourage leaders to violate human rights as far as they get what they desire to get. That is their logic. They will do away the current system in Ethiopia if they wish to do so. But now they are making good cake. We do not know when they will change their mind,It is still happening. Of course you are all covering it up today. After 25 years, you will certainly write about it. The truth is even today more than half of the aid money goes into the pockets of tplf leaders. A significant amount also goes to protect the dictatorship aparatus of this brutal criminal entity. Westerners feed such monster and help torture our poor starving people. Thank You BBC for exposing this story. Although we knew this all along, the rest of the world knows now If ICC is free and fair, Meles and his gangs should go to the court more than any one in this era for his inhumane brain, for both genocide (he made while in jungle and the worst one while on power) and the ecological crime he is inflicting on our environment and eco-system,
    again we are thankful for BBC.

    complain about this comment

  • 81. At 2:46pm on 07 Mar 2010, King Eric of Manchester wrote:

    Why do the BBC & Andrew Whitehead in this report refer to, and credit – incorrectly Bob Geldof – as Sir Bob Geldof. While indeed he was awarded a K.B.E. (Knight of the order of the British Empire) by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, as he is an Irish citizen the award was honorary and he cannot be referred to as ‘Sir’. Instead he is more correctly addressed as Robert (or Bob) Geldof K.B.E. Is this just another example of the BBC making things up as they go along? It’s infuriating, it’s wrong – the BBC should know better so please stop it.

    complain about this comment

  • 82. At 2:47pm on 07 Mar 2010, btrueeth wrote:

    Thank you BBC for that work. Thank you Peter for the explanation. We who were in Ethiopia did hear rumors about these things while we were there (I was there until 2008). There were reports of books being published about this matter. This things will happen because TPLF (Tigray People Liberation Front) was hell bent on overthrowing the Ethiopian Government of that time. So in their eyes it’s “you can justify the means, any means” as long as they achieve their objective. I am not sure if this thing is heard in Ethiopia today since there is too much sensorship of the media (and BBC will be in trouble there). But the money came from the West and so it concerns most the people of the West. While I on behalf of all Ethiopians thank the people of the West for their generosity, I also ask them to pressure their Government not to support in any way the incumbent in Ethiopia.
    The TPLF run government has made new laws that govern the NGOs in Ethiopia but they still operate REST and other party affliated “NGOs”. These laws are favourable for their NGOs and since they did bad things using REST, they know the role that NGOs can play in overthrowing a government so they encated those laws.
    The TPLF run government in Ethiopia always paints a rosey picture of their stuggle. They try to make themselves look like saints. If they are asked about this issue they will have very good excuses that will seem legtimate. The people of Tigray still beg on the streets of Addis even though there are improvements in their State. If BBC digs further they will uncover a lot of things such as the money that people gave at that time was also used to start companies affliated to the TPLF party under the Endowment Fund of Tigray (EFFORT) http://www.effortgroup.org/index.htm
    One just wonders when their lies and cheating will end.

    complain about this comment

  • 83. At 2:50pm on 07 Mar 2010, coldboy1 wrote:

    Thank you Very much BBC and the outstanding Jornalistes.

    PLEASE CONTINUE VOICE FOR VOICELESS!! REALY WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT TO FIND OUT THE TRUTH WHAT THE ETHIOPIAN DECTATORIAL REAGEM CRIME AGAINS MESERABLE ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE.

    WE ALL ETHIOPIANS WITH YOU TO FIGHT AGAINS THE DECTATORES.

    complain about this comment

  • 84. At 2:58pm on 07 Mar 2010, B_Alisson wrote:

    One other tragedy in this is that the Opposition and the so called dissidents
    always sit on the by-lines and criticise the others (read “The West”) for
    not doing anything to change things in their countries while enjoying the
    cosy and comfortable life (many a time paid for by the tax-payer of their
    host Countries) attending parties and seminars with same arrogance and
    disregard and contempt for the ordinary citizens of their countries
    who take and are taking the full brunt of the atrocities of all kinds.

    It is indeed high time that those standing by on side-lines (shouting “Foul”)
    start acting in a responsible manner for a change.

    GUNS and BOMBS will not change anything for the better. What is needed is
    dialogues, dialogues and dialogues; and reasoning among the leaders
    involved (of course with the help of OTHERS mentioned above) and DELIVER
    to their people a fair, safe and a decent living standard.

    Do not expect to be delivered solutions on a golden plate by the same
    people who have been branded as Colonialist exploiters.
    This after so many years of independence to form the destiny of the
    former Colonies.

    Sadly, most Leaders sold out to the Commercially motivated exploiters.
    Hardly a fault of the former Colonialists.
    (This actually doea not belong in this controversy – but I was forced to
    mention it anyway).

    Make the change from inside. And please, do not forget “Dialogue”.

    complain about this comment

  • 85. At 2:58pm on 07 Mar 2010, Sharon wrote:

    When I lived in Ethiopia you could buy meat and goods that had stamped on them ‘present to Ethiopia from the USA’. These goods were available ONLY to ex-pats. It was well known that money sent through agencies landed in the arms of the rebels. furthermore I lived in the bush but everytime I went to Addis I used to see the ‘BAND AID VAN CONSTANTLY IN THE HILTON CARPARK’. I HAVE ALWAYS REFUSED TO GIVE MONEY TO THIS CHARITY PREFERRING INSTEAD TO GIVE DIRECT TO THE AFRICAN PEOPLE I KNOW. Bob Geldof gets on my nerves with his holier than thou attitude. He should spend more time looking after his children rather than bleating on.

    complain about this comment

  • 86. At 3:38pm on 07 Mar 2010, fine2 wrote:

    I just surprised to read this morning what Sir Bod did say. I know he did best for his intention helping the starved people. But it is we the Ethiopian were suffered and died since the last 20 years by the shame work of the tyrant group. Sir Bod can defend himself not TPLF that he did give the money to the then rebels the present the so called leaders not to Buy weapons and we all knew that but the TPLF misused it. now it is our turn to talk if there is any body we can actually able to hear us. the world, sir Bob let us to speak the truth and our pain.

    complain about this comment

  • 87. At 3:39pm on 07 Mar 2010, Menelik wrote:

    Bob Geldof’s flip-floped ages times now on Meles Zenawi
    in 2007 …

    But Geldof’s absence is also about pride. The Irish singer raised $100 million through Band Aid, a supergroup of British pop stars that set the mold for charity records to come, and Live Aid, which did the same for worldwide charity concerts. The money was to help alleviate the devastating Ethiopian famine of 1984-5, in which more than a million people are thought to have died. But Ethiopia, a nation of nearly 80 million people, now boasts consistent economic growth of 10%, and in that context the famine, and Geldof, are remembered with more than a tinge of humiliation. Two years ago, Geldof stirred the pot more when, in a television interview, he told Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to “grow up” and “behave” when Ethiopian police shot dead 36 dead opposition protesters.

    It was the cue for the release of long pent-up anger among Ethiopian patriots. Men such as Mulugeta Aserate Kassa. “People like me are still absolutely furious about what he said,” says Mulugeta over breakfast. “What right has he got to be so paternalistic as to tell African leaders how to behave? My God, if he wants to ever come back here, he’ll have to apologize.” Mulugeta is a distinguished looking 56-year-old, with an exemplary Oxford English accent to match his pinstripe suit. He is also one of the organizers of the millennium celebrations. When he says of Geldof, “I don’t think we’ll be seeing him,” that’s more policy than wish.

    Mulugeta says it’s not that he’s a stranger to suffering himself. He is a distant relation of the former emperor Haile Selassie, who ruled Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974 — with a five-year break from 1936 to 1941 when Italy occupied the country. When the Derg military regime deposed Selassie, Mulugeta’s father was executed and Mulugeta himself spent nine years in jail before being released to 20 years of exile in London. But he is convinced the new millennium will restore Ethiopia and the day will soon arrive when Ethiopians no longer need outside assistance. “Nobody denies we have had famines and drought,” he says. “We have been through that. We feel it in our bones. But we have picked up the pieces. The third millennium will be a re-birth for Ethiopia.” And something to achieve without Bob.

    complain about this comment

  • 88. At 4:32pm on 07 Mar 2010, ecadf wrote:

    The story you mentioned is very well known all over Ethiopia but it gives a factual evidence for the West that a dictator that do not have a moral character for his own people can give peace prosperity and freedom to the nation.We all insist the West that don’t armed dictators.give support for the poor people. The poor needs freedom than anything.REST=TDA=EFFORT=TPLF. I will be happy if Sir Bob ask Ethiopian about the BBC report how true it is.Also Sir Bob should stand with Ethiopian and condem TPLF not for BBC.

    complain about this comment

  • 89. At 4:47pm on 07 Mar 2010, BluesBerry wrote:

    Something I forgot to mention in the piece that I submited yesteray was that the CIA also “alleged” aid money was being misused. A 1985 report from the CIA concluded: “Some funds that insurgent organisations are raising for relief operations, as a result of increased world publicity, are almost certainly being diverted for military purposes.”

    Geldof & the Band Aid Trust are supposedly taking their complaint to the broadcasting regulator Ofcom.

    They and a number of other agencies (like Oxfam and the Red Cross) are also writing to chairman of the BBC Trust, Sir Michael Lyons.

    I’m happy that Geldof is pursuing the issue – not because I think he’s right; in fact, I think that charity monies have always been somewhat diverted, if not totally diverted to “other” purposes. Rather, I am hopeful that this issue will lead to better audit trails being established such that the documentation will resolve matters such as this one i.e. Who got how much $$$ when and what did that individual do with it.

    complain about this comment

  • 90. At 4:53pm on 07 Mar 2010, ecadf wrote:

    BBC did a great jobThank you for telling the truth.TPLF Still useing Aid Money for it’s own bussines called EFFORT.

    complain about this comment

  • 91. At 5:01pm on 07 Mar 2010, Peter Fox wrote:

    This is investigative journalism – the result of which makes a number of charities and Bob Geldof outraged. I have heard nothing by anyone properly describing how the charities ensured that money went to the correct places but a lot of shouting and gnashing of teeth from vested interests – me thinks they protest too much!
    The BBC sources may be indeed be unreliable but to flatly deny that any corruption took place is laughable so in the interest of the truth these nay sayers need to engage with the BBC journalist and their sources and properly investigate in unison – not act like a lot of brainless yobs just shouting off.
    As in all life those at the bottom of the heap are crushed further into the ground – be it black Africans or white British – there will always be someone at the top getting fat on their plight, be it exploitation of labour or divertment of aid.
    It is the sad fact of human existence.

    complain about this comment

  • 92. At 5:12pm on 07 Mar 2010, hanna3-1 wrote:

    Thankyou Andrew Whitehead
    Your report on this particular issue is not only supported by the facts and figures on the ground but can also be witnessed by several millions of Ethiopians who are still alive.If BBC digs further they will uncover a lot of things such as the money that people gave at that time was also used to start companies affliated to the TPLF party under the Endowment Fund of Tigray (EFFORT) http://www.effortgroup.org/index.htm
    One just wonders when their lies and cheating will end.

    complain about this comment

  • 93. At 5:23pm on 07 Mar 2010, meti wrote:

    BBC, I ADMIRE YOUR DEDICATION FOR TURE AND TRANSPARENT JOURNALISM. THE STORY OF TPLF GOES BEYOND THIS FINDINGS, YOU GUYS CAN GET LOT’S OF EVIDENCES TO AFIRM YOUR REPORT. WE ETHIOPIANS HAVE BEEN BEGING FOR WESTERN TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE SITUATIONS IN ETHIOPIA. TPLF LEARDERS WILL DO ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING TO STAY IN POWER. THIS LEADERS HAVE ONLY ONE INTENSTION TO ETHIOPIA THAT IS TO DISTROY THE HISTORY AND DIGNITY OF OUR PEOPLE, IT IS SHAME TO SEE WESTERNS TURN THEIR BACK TO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE BEING TORUTURED, KILLED, AND JAILED BY THEIR OWN LEADERS. BBC, I ADVICE YOU TO HAVE YOUR REPORTERS AND INVESTIGATORS TO CONTACT GROUPS LIKE ECADF, G7 AND MR. OBANG METHO TO GET MORE EVIDENCES TO YOUR CASES. BE THE VOICE TO VOICELESS AND WE WILL STAND WITH YOU EXPOSING THE TRUTH ABOUT TOPLF THUGS.
    THANKS

    complain about this comment

  • 94. At 5:32pm on 07 Mar 2010, Fikru Helebo wrote:

    Kudos to the BBC for taking this allegation seriously and reporting on it. I hope the BBC will stay the course and do all the necessary followups to this story. Most Ethiopians feel this story is just a tip of the iceberg as far as TPLF’s shady finances are concerned and how it relates to food and development aid. Many commentators have already correctly pointed out about the need to look into the financial books of REST, and its successor EFFORT, to get to the bottom of this story.

    Some commentators have suggested that this allegation of diversion of aid money happening 25 years after the fact is not relevant and the the fact that it is done by former TPLF leaders, who certainly have an axe to grind against their former colleagues, makes the allegations very suspect. I could not disagree more. It is appropriate to be skeptical of these former TPLF leader, but these two facts in an of themselves are not comeling reasons to delegitimize the story as Mr. Geldof seems to be doing.

    I think this story deserves full investigation not only by the BBC, but also by other news outlets, because it is very much relevant to what is happening to aid money in Ethiopia today. There are consistent and credible reports of aid money still being used to gain political support by the current regime in power. This must be stopped. What better way to do that to take a serious look at what happened to aid money in the 80s and how the diversion of aid money transformed the TPLF into a formidable player which it was not prior to 1985?

    complain about this comment

  • 95. At 5:40pm on 07 Mar 2010, Ethiopia wrote:

    Dear peter,
    I am beyond certain that you published this report just to disturb the curent progress in ethiopia .Shame on you shame on you .I dont like to argue whether the aid was divert or not ,since i could not yet get convincing report.you only based on exile politician .How for a second you couldnt assumed the probabilty of biaz information they would provide you since they have stakes in ethiopian poletics.Why now ? I decided not to read any more pulish from BBC you realy love disturbing Africa so that you will keep reporting bad ,which atract your reader eye .But at the expense of millions poor africans.You are disgrace.

    complain about this comment

  • 96. At 5:43pm on 07 Mar 2010, hanna3-1 wrote:

    Thankyou Andrew Whitehead
    Your report on this particular issue is not only supported by the facts and figures on the ground but can also be witnessed by several millions of Ethiopians who are still alive.If BBC digs further they will uncover a lot of things such as the money that people gave at that time was also used to start companies affliated to the TPLF party under the Endowment Fund of Tigray (EFFORT) http://www.effortgroup.org/index.htm
    One just wonders when their lies and cheating will end.
    ASA

    complain about this comment

  • 97. At 6:11pm on 07 Mar 2010, Beshah wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 98. At 6:42pm on 07 Mar 2010, AYAKURATE wrote:

    if you investigate how EFFORT,the organaization made bt TPLF,is created ,you will get the answer.BBC,this is the tip of the iceberg!

    complain about this comment

  • 99. At 6:49pm on 07 Mar 2010, sintayehu Kidane wrote:

    Dear BBC Investigative Reporter,

    I would like to forward my appreciation for your integrity and hardwork. Though it is know for Ethiopians many years ago, this particular report will help the westerns to open their eyes on some of African dictators. We are thankful to Sir Bob Geldof but we are also sorry for him to say the report rubish. How can he be sure while the relief was done by REST (the TPLF) wing? The TPLF officials are now trying to discredit the report by discrediting the informants. But that does not work out. Whom you want to witness? Eye witness is the stongest witness after documentary evidence. For sure the picture of Ato Gebremedhin tells also the truth. He has published the same in his book Talaku sera” (the greatest conspiracy). He published it 20 years ago.

    Sir Bob Geldof, you are trying to undermine our conciousness. As I said we respect your effort. The distribution will not tarnish your image. You did nothing wrong. But you do not need to tell us to belive you more than our eyes. The TPLF had tried to kill Gebremedhin Araya and Abraham Yayeh for defecting and exposing the facts. Abraham Yayeh, who is now bowed back to TPLF, can be a witness for that. He was saved in Uganda from killing attempt by the TPLF men. They may try the same now again as the issue is bombarded again.

    I advice at Gebremedhin Araya to take caution. I know he is well aware of the TPLF nature.

    For the moderator: Let me ask you one question. Have you taken the statistics of those removed comments. I am sure you all are insults. That is the way it works in our current Ethiopia.

    Thank you BBC

    complain about this comment

  • 100. At 7:14pm on 07 Mar 2010, bigsammyb wrote:

    I was highly amused by Bobs Geldofs reaction. Aftertall he hasn’t made any music in many many years yet still feels he has the right to barge in to politcal business he has no democratic right to get involved with.

    He is so upset because if it is found band aid effectively allowed money to be spent on arms his entire pretentious ‘legacy’ is undermined.

    complain about this comment

  • 101. At 7:16pm on 07 Mar 2010, ealemu wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 102. At 7:31pm on 07 Mar 2010, Ken Dodd’s dad’s dog’s alive Sack Moyles wrote:

    The CIA and the Americans are not credible witnesses as we have all seen before the Yanks are witless.

    complain about this comment

  • 103. At 7:40pm on 07 Mar 2010, sintayehu Kidane wrote:

    From the very nature of TPLF, we will see that

    1. Some demonstration/ conferences will be held in Tigray to denounce the BBC report
    2. The Ethiopian Television will come up with a lot of TPLF cadres and others to witness that as if they have recieved the humniterian aid from REST
    3. The TPLF comrades will tarnish the name of Dr. Aregawi Berhe, Ato Gebre MEdhin Araya and others who exposed the truth on ethiopian TV, Radio,…

    Kidane

    complain about this comment

  • 104. At 7:44pm on 07 Mar 2010, gonnagetya wrote:

    Andrew, People,

    just 1 thought: ok, there is proof from both sides that “some” money was diverted back then; now, the person(s) who managed to fetch those dollars is(are) today diverting 100 times that amount through a state-of-the-art self-concocted organism “EFFORT”, with the praise of western countries. All aid that goes to this horn of africa nation is diverted. All of it!

    May God bless Abyssinia

    complain about this comment

  • 105. At 7:47pm on 07 Mar 2010, Shiferaw wrote:

    What I find questionable is that, not only it has taken the BBC 25 years to come up with such controversial allegations but also the fact that the venerable BBC, considered by many the citadel of honest reporting, requires the TPLF to prove its innocence. You may have to refresh your Shakespeare if you are going to require Desdemona (read TPLF) to prove its innocence against allegations by Iago (read Martin Plaut) for execution by the Othelo (read the BBC).
    Whether or not the BBC passes the test of fairness, my deepest sympathy and appreciation goes to the wonderful human being, Sir Bob Geldof, who against all odds was instrumental in mobilizing resources to save the life of hundreds of thousands. Why does BBC have to run errands for failed malcontents that have an axe to grind against irrefutable evidence of a double digit growth for the nation achieved mainly through the diligent efforts of the government? Could it be it has escaped the attention of the BBC about the forth coming national elections in three months time? Hardly.

    complain about this comment

  • 106. At 7:53pm on 07 Mar 2010, mademan wrote:

    I worked as a researcher in the early 90’s on the politics of aid in the Horn of Africa and there were reports and accusations about aid being used by the military back then. Just as now Geldof denied it then but the situation was very complex and it was never a question of whether any aid found it’s way into the armies hands but how much.

    complain about this comment

  • 107. At 8:48pm on 07 Mar 2010, paul nichols wrote:

    complain about this comment

  • 108. At 9:06pm on 07 Mar 2010, paul nichols wrote:

    Wake up Sir Bob…”THIS IS AFRICA”…I worked for a charity in Uganda for 5 months in 1994..all peoples there, “ex pats” blacks, whites, knew the Ethiopian band aid project was a well intended but monies went missing, corruption was rife, seed corn for next years crops was eaten by the hungry (understandbly)!!!….many people involved in the project on the ground were well aware of the corruption and the divertion on monies AND the corruption was on a GOLBAL scale…your effort to save these poor people was one of noble intention…but maybe you were unaware what you were dealing with…..” THIS IS AFRICA”….(sadly not much has changed in the world to-day !!!!!!!!)

    complain about this comment

  • 109. At 9:22pm on 07 Mar 2010, untouchable_9 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 110. At 9:40pm on 07 Mar 2010, sintayehu Kidane wrote:

    Why is the defected TPLF members cannot be credible witnesses? Who can be then? They are the one who saw it in their eyes and were part of it. So whom should we expect to witness this? Do not expect any member of TPLF to witness while he/she is in power and live in that country? To speak the truth one should be out of the country with all his descendents. Otherwise we know that what will happen to his/her and her households. Look what happened to the Mr Andargachew Tsige family, Dr. Berhanu Nega Family. Not beacuse they did something wrong. But only because of their respective sons.

    No one has accepted the investigation report of Campodia, Darfur, Rwnada, serbia. those braves who exposed the truth were pushed aside. But now they are model personalities. The BBC journalist atleast should feel satisfied for his ethical and bravery investigation.

    Can the charity organisation be credible.No in Ethiopia. Because there is no rulein the country. They will be shutdown in 30minutes. So they prefer protecting the regime (one to continue their service to the poors or not to lose their job).

    complain about this comment

  • 111. At 9:47pm on 07 Mar 2010, sintayehu Kidane wrote:

    BBC will not be visited again in Ethiopia. It will be blocked like HRW, Amensty International, other sites. The BBC focus Africa will be blocked like VOA and Dutch Welle. That is the way it works the currentb Ethioia under TPLF.

    complain about this comment

  • 112. At 9:54pm on 07 Mar 2010, highlights wrote:

    Interesting story. I don’t think the BBC should feel so pleased with themselves about the revelations that Band Aid funding may or may not have ended up in the hands of Ethiopians with dodgy causes. That sort of news is just so 1980’s, man.

    “On 28 March 1983, the Sunday Times of London reported an allega- tion that food aid donated by the European Economic Community (EEC) was being diverted from drought stricken northern Ethiopia to the Ethiopian army or to the Soviet Union as payment of arms.”

    And when you think that the UN first reported a need for emergency food aid in the face of impending drought in 1981, and didnt get anything delivered for a couple of years, I don’t think anyone should be too hard on, Geldof, a member of the public, who acted the minute he learnt about the reality.

    On the other hand, I think that Geldof should be able to concede that less than 100% of the millions donated to Band Aid made it through to the needy in Ethiopia by hook or by crook. He didnt fail donors in some spectacular way, aid is a difficult business and full of compromise and is easy to nit pick from afar.

    If you want a story, go deep into parts of the UN and major “charities” and see what they are funding, skimming off and over-paying for. Around the time of this “scandal” in Ethiopia, the UN and co based in Sudan were purchasing tied aid vehicles from FIAT, delivering rat infested Reagangrain and so on, in the name of the US and European public. Meanwhile, Geldof contracted a national transport company on a cost plus 10% basis, and delivered phenomenal amounts of food in Sudan. But you could make a case against that smart move and focus on the effect of huge influx of food on prices in local markets, or the creation of a new middle class of freelance truckers or… It is the nature of the beast, flooding into a poor country has side effects.

    Band Aid doesnt continue its worthy but imperfect work, whereas the established foreign aid sector does continue to mismanage billions, maintaining the status quo. That’s where the news is.

    complain about this comment

  • 113. At 10:00pm on 07 Mar 2010, Daniel wrote:

    Well done Mr Whitehead to let the world know what Mr Meles and his army is doing to his owen people. This is the fact almost all ethiopians know. We Ethiopians understand the anger of sir Bob because he also worked day and night so that the poor Ethiopian people get help we ethiopians have great respect for him but I would like to remind him that those people are rebles they are criminals not any better than derg may be worse so it is pretty sure they can do this they have done much worse crime than this we ethiopians are not surprized by this news but glad that it come to light of to Sir Bob and the world that we are under criminal dictatorship.
    Thank you MR Whitehead keep it up

    complain about this comment

  • 114. At 10:05pm on 07 Mar 2010, woldeamanuel wondimagegnehu wrote:

    First of I would like to extend my deep thanks to BBC for bringing this crucial information unbiased. Per my honest feelings, I would love to say that Sir Bob Gildof had done his best in coordinating a massive life saving donation drive in that ruthless time of death. However, with all due respect, his opinion given on your TV is extremely controversial.

    The following are what I would like to point out:

    a) I couldn’t understand the logic behind defending a voluntary confession made by the person who was one of the responsible persons to decide the fate of the donation delivered to his rebel commanding unit.
    Simply when someone admits that he made a mistake, no reasonable person would tell him that he didn’t make any mistake.
    b) As per my knowledge, Sir Bob Gildof only delivered the money to those who were in charge (Sebehat Nega, and Meles Zenawi). Other than that I don’t know If he was able to witness the purchase and distribution of food to the concerned people in hunger. If he was not there, what made him certain to argue on behalf of a fair distribution of the donation?
    c) the person whom he disgraced by saying “a man in exile in Holland” was the commander in chief of the rebels in that time. However, the way he described him shows that he knows who is who among the rebels.
    d) He inquired evidence for the allegation, however he didn’t take time to realize that Doctor Aregawi Berhe is a living witness of the scenario as a person in charge of the army, and he confessed his involvement in the activity already.

    Unless and otherwise a person is involved in the activity of corruption with the rest of the thieves, he/ she won’t have a say on people’s confession, in my understanding.

    Hopefully BBC world service will bring us further details about it in due time!
    thank you!

    complain about this comment

  • 115. At 10:22pm on 07 Mar 2010, chuchu wrote:

    i just agree with bbc it’s true but i do not understand why sir,bob geldof’s denied every thing he is the highest respected person in Ethiopian, it’s shame on CIA they just tooked off the money from hungry poor people,CIA or the US government they should be apologized before realsed this shocking news thank you bbc

    complain about this comment

  • 116. At 10:46pm on 07 Mar 2010, solomon wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 117. At 11:37pm on 07 Mar 2010, peace2020 wrote:

    Thank you BBC for your unbiased reporting on the relief money that went on buying weapons by the mafia TPLF group. Most Ethiopians know this truth many years ago and the western never listened to the cry of many Ethiopians. But thank you for exposing this crimes to the rest of the world. This is one of the many crimes done by the TPLF. The now TPLF (Marxsist and Leninist) regime in Ethiopia is killing people everyday since they came to power. There are a lot of horrible crimes being done in Ethiopia in the past 19 years. I hope that the BBC will keep on reporting the truth to the world.
    thank you

    complain about this comment

  • 118. At 00:38am on 08 Mar 2010, zengeb wrote:

    Thank you BBC for reporting the truth. Wake up kind people of the world.
    Do not send money without asking,”who is using my money” Do not go by what you see on TV.Direct help is the only way in Ethiopia.
    Ask where the coffee from Ethiopia you are drinking in starbucks or any coffee shop coming from. “Fair Trade Certified” ??? Ask for the names of the owners of the farms. Fair trade organizations do not know the owners.This is the truth.They do not know if the owner has taken the farm by force or they are helping the real owner. Farms, businesses was confiscated by the gov. officials. There is no private ownership of farms. The goverment of Ethiopia is in charge. Recently coffee was confiscated from exporters. Ask how can you call it Fair trade certified in a country where coffee is confiscated by government officials who are holding on to confiscated farms taken from refugees who live in Ethiopia and all over the world.Refugees were ignored by charity organization to report the truth. Their excuse “According to international law charity organization cannot get involved or say anything negative about Ethiopian government”
    Keep telling the kind people around the world the truth. Sir Geldof only knows what he is told. Refugees thank him for what he tried to do. The way to help the poor has to change. Charity organization are not allowed to tell you the truth because of the “International Law” If they did they will be asked to leave as it has happpened in the past.This is a fact. Thank BBC for making you question what is going on there.

    complain about this comment

  • 119. At 00:50am on 08 Mar 2010, Aynabeba wrote:

    I am sure the purpose of issuing this report now is to get advantage in the upcoming may 2002 election. Mr. Andrew was easily cheated by Arena, Medrek , some Conservative Diaspora and may be also by Shabiya (EPLF) people. As I clearly understand from history of TPLF, every transaction of the party implemented after serious dialogue among the members and I, therefore, do not accept this lie report of Arena and others group. The news is 100% targeted to get advantage in the Election. It is really wrong assumption. We all Ethiopian don’t forget that if Derg has stayed in power till now, our population size wouldn’t have been 75 million but we would have been 40million or may be 50 million. This means 30 million of us may be killed by the butcher Derg. I want to say to BBC management and reporters’ please…… please…. do not disturb us who are living homeland and working hard for the development of our beloved country, by supporting and becoming ECHO of some arrogant Diasporas and uncivilized opposition leaders who needs to make politics as their source of income.

    complain about this comment

  • 120. At 01:20am on 08 Mar 2010, justineet wrote:

    Wow, how far we have fallen, BBC?

    If you guys dug a little deeper about these two guys, you would have easyly discovered the litany of fabrications these guys have manufactured against the current Ethiopian leadership. It goes back to the military junta days of Megistu Hailemariam in the 80s when one of your sources, Aya Geremedhin, defected to the Derg(Mengistu’s regime) and started a propaganda campaign in the Ethiopian media against TPLF with colossal fabrications. Your other source, Aregawi Berhe, wasn’t even there when the food aid started coming in through the Sudan. He had already left the organization after falling out with his colleagues. So, you have one guy who has a proven record of making false statements. And the other wasn’t even there to witness anything.

    The Western media needs to really understand one thing about Ethiopian politics. There is a miniscule but maniacally hate-filled, mendacious group of people amongst the Ethiopian Diaspora – in Europe and America – against the current Ethiopian government. To close observers of Ethiopian political , they are very well known for head spinning, stupendous lies, and stomach churning bigotry. Though they are all over in the blogssphere, thankfully, they are a miniscule bunch in ablolute number. However, they are capable of fooling some in the Western media if not diligent.

    BBC, if you want to keep a shred of credibility, you need to apologize – first, to TPLF, for making such an outrageous accusation against them on the basis of the flimsiest of evidence. Second, to everyone who was involved in this great humanitarian endeavor including the millions of people in the general public who contributed their hard earned money.

    complain about this comment

  • 121. At 02:35am on 08 Mar 2010, alemayehu wrote:

    Dear BBC, in addition to commissioning Barnaby Taylor to do the music for your wonderful series THE GREAT RIFT, this report has me feeling very happy to pay my license fee. It is absolutely vital that the kind. people of Britain know what happened to all the money they gave to my former country. There has NEVER been a formal audit or comprehensive evaluation of the impact of that historic and colossal outpouring of generosity, save for a few feel good photo opportunities with one SINGLE survivor. I hope Private Eye does a follow up investigative report on the critics of this BBC programme,to investigate what business interests, if any, your critics may have in Ethiopia.

    The lines between aid, profit and politics have been, and still are, intertwined and blurred enough in Ethiopia to warrant such a report. It is the first step in trying to answer the nagging question WHY IS AID NOT WORKING IN ETHIOPIA? Whether or not the good people of Britain are too polite enough to demand it, I feel they deserve and are well served by the type of groundbreaking scrutiny this BBC report has provided.The British people have a right and need to know what charities have done and are doing with their money in Ethiopia as well as elsewhere. At a time when the UK Government is handing over wads of their precious tax money to TPLF the people of UK need to know what TPLF is capable of doing with it.

    For the first time in over 30 years of giving food aid for emergencies in Ethiopia,(compassionately reported on by BBC’s Dimbelby, Beurke and G.Esler),donors that give food aid to Ethiopia are finally collaborating to get accountability from and Ethiopian Government. This new international agency is a mechanism for food aid monitoring and is called the FOOD MANAGEMENT IMPROVEMENT PROJECT. They are currently working on finding out what happened to food aid given in the past. When seen in this light, the BBC has nothing to explain or apolgise for, it is not alone in looking for the truth about TPLFs food aid management techniques. Clearly, both their past and present record is a matter that is of vital public interest. Bravo BBC! Please ignore Bob Geldof K.B.E., never call him SIR, its incorrect and KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK. And If Bob Geldof K.B.E. is so outraged by the BBC story why doesn’t HE tell us where our expletive deleted money went??? I think we should be told.

    complain about this comment

  • 122. At 03:01am on 08 Mar 2010, Abera1 wrote:

    BBC is well known and respected for an excellent journalism. This story about the aid money used for buying weaponary has been discussed in Ethiopia for a while. The reporter deserves recognition for writing this documentary. TPLFites like Henok and Ezana had gone as far as asking for appology, the question here is who should appologize, the looter or the reporter? Yes in the current Ethiopian condition, the reporters are appologizing while the looters are in palace, do we have to transform this reality to other foreign countries? That would make our rulers lookm like fools.
    Mr. Bob Geldof please do not fight the war of a dictator to cover what he is doing, because it may back fire and you would hear some other inconvineient truth about our regime. This is just the tip of the iceberg. As for your name, the story might paint you as a fool, not a looter (a morally better grade).
    Let me ask the aid organizations and Mr. Bob geldof one very important question. Is it better to correct the misuse of aid money and find the culprits or keep wasting the aid money? Why do you think these former TPLF commanders are not trustworthy? Would you have doubted someone from the former prime minister Blair cabinet if they were to tell you some secret about their political dealings? Or your doubt is only when it is from Africa? You should be ashamed of your self, BOb.

    complain about this comment

  • 123. At 06:58am on 08 Mar 2010, Henock wrote:

    “They are now at odds with the then TPLF leader, Meles Zenawi, who is currently Ethiopia’s Prime Minister. But they are credible voices.”
    what an argument? shame on you BBC

    complain about this comment

  • 124. At 07:13am on 08 Mar 2010, brian sheriff wrote:

    Wow… does Zimbabwe ring a bell anybody? In this report – there is every precedent to believe everything said by the former rebels but there is also every precedent to believe the entire story is a fabricated article, planted by interests bent on smearing the former rebels (present day Ethiopian leaders).
    Where does anybody stand? Take your pick.
    In my experience it is true in both camps – a true story and a planted falsehood.
    There is clear and irrefutable motive for either take. The wise thing is to save one’s breathe and keep the mouth shut – if you’re Bob Geldorf or the Ethiopian cheer leading team – or risk being proven wrong.
    The story with the crisis in Zimbabwe is exactly the same – every side can prove the other side is telling a lie.
    I have a question though, why did it take the BBC twenty years to write this? Had arms been bought they’d surely have known about it on June 26th 1986…
    Was it for the fear of “the hero of Wembley” being tarnished? Telling about it in 2010 (when the arms dealers and their suppliers are all out of business) makes one wonder if this is the beginning of the fall of the Ethiopian administration. Journalism would be such an admirable profession were it not for the fact that it has always existed only for the purpose of assisting those in power lay down the foundations of their future ventures.

    complain about this comment

  • 125. At 07:49am on 08 Mar 2010, Granten wrote:

    I find the CIA document interesting. If the groups were fighting a pro-Soviet government then it seems strange to publish anything that would embarrass them, especially in the era of Reagan. I’d like to know if it was internal or meant for public digest.

    On the main concern of aid channeling, so far all we have is a (very) basic statement of the BBC’s methods, a counterargument by the aid groups involved without detail of their own investigatory methods, and the BBC’s good name.

    complain about this comment

  • 126. At 08:02am on 08 Mar 2010, gonnagetya wrote:

    ref. At 7:44pm on 07 Mar 2010, you wrote:…

    moderator, what was there to moderate???

    complain about this comment

  • 127. At 08:27am on 08 Mar 2010, Getachew Mergia wrote:

    BBC quited as evidence Gebremedhin Araya and Aregawi Berhe, who were & are still struggling to over through today’s Ethiopian Government using difference means. Aregawi Berhe is also one of the member of Medirek one of the anti-ethiopian government political party, how can you quite this as neutral evidence.
    I am not a member of TPLF or member of opposition parties but as true Ethiopian I don’t want to hear any thing which drags back Ethiopia development.
    You have tried to show us about the tragedy of famine in Tigray before 25 years, why you did this at this time are you challenging Ethiopia development as one of the anti-Ethiopian development political parties, or are you bribed by them to do this?
    Why you didn’t try to mention some of the progress Ethiopia was/ is achieving in the last 18 years.
    I know there is high Corruption problem in the Civil service bureaus of the country, but the are some reforms to curve down this corruption problem, and I believe it will be curved down by our community.
    Finally I would like to tell you that we Ethiopian can help our selves, so live-us alone.

    My message to Gebremedhin Araya and Aregawi Berhe please I don’t want to hear your complain from abroad come here and if you believe struggle for your people to achieve peacefull democratic development we don’t want to hear a single sound of bullet, again in Ethiopian.
    I was the victim of the terrible fighting in the North, I was one of the orphan children who lost both my father and my mom, I don’t want to see any after civil war orphan child again.

    complain about this comment

  • 128. At 08:57am on 08 Mar 2010, Gebre wrote:

    Sir Bob Geldof is to be respected for his noble deed of organiszing the band and making the money available for the victims of the famine. It has nothing to do with him. Rather than arguing with the BBC, it is better to take some time and examine the nature of these former rebels. All along these rebels had been doing banditry and raids on public property. They don’t have the slightest hesitation to do whatever evil which they think is to their advantage. They have made thousands of kidnapping and arbitrary killing on their own people. I advise Bob Geldof to examine what the same people are doing as government leaders presently (the economic empire they have built in the country by looting and embezzlement), then he will not have any doubt that they will do anything when they were rebels.

    complain about this comment

  • 129. At 08:59am on 08 Mar 2010, hailu t wrote:

    Don’t you smell something fishy….?
    1.Where is the rest of the evidence?
    2.Why report after some 25 years? Just at the dawn of the ethiopian elections?
    3. BBC is relying on two former rebels story who are definitly bent on smearing their comarades…gives a lot to be desired…
    Anyway, I seriously doubt about the facts and the mentioned CIA reports… Anyone will tell you that back then, people tell anything to a FERENJI (foreigner) just in the hope to sail to the WEST…

    complain about this comment

  • 130. At 09:18am on 08 Mar 2010, AYAKURATE wrote:

    hello bbc
    why wasn’t this true story for the majority of ethiopians not exposed during Blair’s era?
    Did Meles’s ‘body’ Mr. Blair say any thing?

    complain about this comment

  • 131. At 09:35am on 08 Mar 2010, maurinhoforPM wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 132. At 09:58am on 08 Mar 2010, maurinhoforPM wrote:

    This is basically African tribalism – ie Tigray vs Amhara that usually rears its ugly head just before their elections. And the BBC reporter has been drawn into without realising how Mordechai Vanunu ended up in jail in Israel !! The agents’ Amhara handlers will be very satisfied !! The Editor (ignorant?) should have first investigated his reporter to suss out bias/influence before printing anything (especially the timing). Why even the World Bank Director for Kenya endorsed the fake election result on the following day precisely because of the age old problem of Julius Ceaser/Mark Antony/Cleopatra.By the way he was transferred, the least the BBC can do is transfer the reporter to California or somewhere far from such delights !!

    complain about this comment

  • 133. At 10:38am on 08 Mar 2010, Daniele wrote:

    the fact that a certain share of aid is quite often diverted by “rebel groups”, local politicians and “businessmen” is not new. It happened in Congo with Hutu “refugees” from Rwanda: the Interahamwe got rich (and bought weapons and equipment)with the aid from international organizations and NGOs. The same is now happening in Somalia.

    complain about this comment

  • 134. At 10:39am on 08 Mar 2010, Megan wrote:

    All the more reason to be extremely careful when distributing aid. These days I only support specific projects where I know who is providing what to whom directly – going and actually digging wells, for example – rather than giving money to vague ‘aid organisations’ when you don’t know who will be dipping into the pot, whether for weapons or to line their own pockets, before it gets to those who actually need it.

    Indeed I would like all aid to any location prone to violence to require the recipients to sign non-violence agreements before they can benefit from the aid. The hoodlum element is doing far more harm than droughts, earthquakes and general poverty.

    complain about this comment

  • 135. At 12:17pm on 08 Mar 2010, Lemma wrote:

    We Ethiopians have respect for Sir Bob Geldof, but after this allegations he still want to defend his hero Meles. Sir Bob, I think you should listen to this allegations and trying to investigate and finally to prosecute the so called Ethiopian Government as you promised. The evidence you want is what BBC reported to you and those former rebel leaders, they are live witnesses, so what do you want anymore go on Sir, for the sake of Ethiopian people. Because you collected the Aid money in the name of Ethiopian people, but it ended up to buy weapons to kill each other. Finally my country has got dictators who are still stealing not only the aid money, but also a peoples’ vote. Sir Bob don’t forget what happened in year 2005 in Ethiopia of course if you know about it. We still waiting for justice for this corruption and different genocide made by Meles and his group. Please Sir be with Ethiopian people not with dictators. If you really this allegations made you angry and be available for further evidence and to start your own investigations now. Otherwise the future aid not only for Ethiopia but for other poor nation will be in jeopardise. The rest of Charities also should start their own investigation instead of reacting angrily for the BBC report. Don’t rush the truth is bitter, but go to find it. Well done BBC and Matin Plaut.

    complain about this comment

  • 136. At 12:45pm on 08 Mar 2010, Abdissa Aga wrote:

    This is old news for many Ethiopians, and so should be for Bob Geldof. Another former TPLF leader has revealed as early as 1999 that 80% of the rebel group’s annual budget came from the proceeds of the AID that was genorusly funnelled through the AID consortium based in the Sudan.
    See Gidey Zeratsion, The Ideolgical and Political Causes of the Ethio-Eritrean War: An Insider’s View, Paper submitted at the INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE ETHIO-ERITREAN CRISES, 24 July 1999. Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Are Sir Geldof et al going to dismiss this author because he is also a digruntled, former TPLF leader? Who else could know and tell such a story then – the current leaders?

    complain about this comment

  • 137. At 1:39pm on 08 Mar 2010, Eyasu Yilma wrote:

    This story is known for Ethiopian long ago. The TPLF has circulated a news to it supporter that Eritrea has blocked the aid to Tigray and further used this fabricated story to fuel more haterade to eritreans that TPLF mobilized people for the 1998 war. but again it is TPLF known tactic to depend more on aid to its personal advantage. Two points the US AIDS money is managed by the wife of the prime minister. She leads many committee and all her business depends on the money recieved for HIV/AIDS prevention. The last attempt is that this prime minister disolved the forestry agency in ethiopia and did place any valuable policy for environmental protection in the country history, but now he is in the front row to recieve the huge climate fund work with UK in a committee. Above all against all odds he is in power with remarkable support from UK and US while the people of horn of Africa struggle to stop his actions.

    complain about this comment

  • 138. At 1:47pm on 08 Mar 2010, matigari wrote:

    This is one of the games that detract africans especially ethiopians in this particular case from envolving in a constructive means to develop their country thereby help their people reach the level where they can feed themselves. it is not the journalist who reported this issue or the bbc which aired it which i am always ashamed of. It is those Ethiopians or those who claimed to be, who left ethiopia due to the uncomfortable conditions inclusing but not limited to war, draught etc through further education, deception, froud, political misunderstanidng etc and then talk as if they are in a position to know what the real ethiopians in ethiopia need. it is wron to be an ethiopian and at the same time try to think and do things as a westerner. think like an ethiopian and write like one.Dont only say that you have never been colonized but try to see the dangerous route that the west is leading you to through the modern day colonization. learn from most of the present day African states who are crippled by the west. They are doing it in ethiopia now by making it dependent on food aid, lecturing about democracy, free speach and now teaching you some history lessons through their seemingly free media. Think. Ethiopia dont need a lecture from abroad. please those ethiopians who are blinded by the western development including ideological, you are in the wrong side.even though you need some lessons from the west try to do it in a constructive way and on the pace of your people who are in the groung. dont try to put something in the minds of the innocent ethiopians which is not helpfull in any standards except to put thenm backwards. Again remember that a baby can, walk right on birth,or even on 6 months even though you tell want it, tell it of feed it to. wake up and see what you say and write in terms of who you are not in terms of who you think you are. After all the west is loosing grounds but we will increase the pace if we wake up soon enough to work against their poisonous adventures.

    complain about this comment

  • 139. At 3:26pm on 08 Mar 2010, Beshah wrote:

    Thankyou Andrew Whitehead ,

    This is the first time I admire a BBC report. Go and uncover it. There are a lot of mistries that you can discover for which the west was spending its money. Investigate EFFORT the conglomerate which owns most businesses in Ethiopia and owned by those very peoples. Can we rule out any positive involvement by the so called charities too? Not sure! I call up on all Ethiopians who had ample information
    to contribute all they can to reveal the truth.

    Thankyou once again for your professional work.

    Beshah
    Dubai, UAE

    complain about this comment

  • 140. At 3:32pm on 08 Mar 2010, Daniel Assefa wrote:

    I do not understand what the fuss is all about. This is a common knowledge in the streets of Addis Ababa. Just pull aside one of the former or current soldiers of TPLF ask them. This did not happen only in Tigay. A similar thing happend in South Western Ethiopia where I was working at that time. Food Aid from aid organisations to refugee camps in South west Ethiopia was used to finance the army of SPLA (Sudan) with the participation of the Ethiopian army.

    If want an even outrageous behavior, TPLF had raided the Ministry of Health in Bhirdar just befor they took power. The property was transfered to REST. Few monthes letter they sold their loot to the EThiopian governement which were they themselves. At the time they out right told every body that they are with in their rights to do so.

    complain about this comment

  • 141. At 4:32pm on 08 Mar 2010, peace2020 wrote:

    The following is from “huffington post”.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/ethiopia-licensed-to-stea_b_489516.html

    complain about this comment

  • 142. At 4:48pm on 08 Mar 2010, Dr PL de Silva wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 143. At 5:01pm on 08 Mar 2010, tatatata wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 144. At 5:06pm on 08 Mar 2010, Haile wrote:

    Thank You! BBC and Martin Plaut for your investigative work about the mishandling of aid money by the TPLF leadeships in 1985.
    As ethiopian,I am also very thankful of those we came to help us(Bob Geldof, the many charity organizations, and all others)
    -Tplf leaders are professional thieves and inhumane creatures we are very good at nothing but deception. I give them thumbs up for fooling the international community for so long. But for us ethiopians this is not a new story…TPLF under Meles and Sebhat Nega not only took the money from the starving Tigrians but also build a businees empire in the ethiopia (unders the desguise of EFFORT) which basically controls all economic aspects of the country.
    This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes the deception ability of tplf…from day one before they even held state power the have been committing so many crimes…we know how many Gojames got shot from the back by tplf after fighting on their side…you see tplf will shot you and bring flower to your cemetry..that is the case in point ..I can mention the likes of the airforce pilot Daniel Asefa, the many explosions in Addis Ababa that even claimed the live of one American besides the many poor ethiopians, the purposely orchestrated conflicts (between different ethnic/religious) groups that claimed the the lives of many ethiopians, and many more as all the works of TPLF evil deeds. Even now TPLF trucks are exclusively authorized to move food aids, all the billions of dollars this government got from the west for the past two decades…the probable have built some buildings and roads using only 50% of the mony al the peak. desides behind all this western backed developments their companies gets the lions share from supplying cement from one of EFFORT companies, Moseb, to u name it…
    -so

    complain about this comment

  • 145. At 5:16pm on 08 Mar 2010, Tutuye wrote:

    Dear all on against the report,

    There are ample evidences out there supporting the abuse made at that time.One of it is the EPRDF’s Paranoia of NGO’s in the Ogaden region and the law EPRDF passed recently to limit the role they would have on the ground.These things are purely the result of EPRDF’s experience of the past with NGO’s.It is true for EPRDF that NGO’s Funding could be routed for unintended user, No one could confirm this than EPRDF.It is a first hand experience for EPRDF.

    complain about this comment

  • 146. At 5:39pm on 08 Mar 2010, siye wrote:

    BBC sulled investigate all western activities at that time. This confession by one of the most powerful former gorilla fitters it is not just some refuge he was the most respected and will known official at the time bbc should value the evades presented to you guys buy one of the people how made the crime, everyone who is involve in this acme in clouding the gentleman confessing the crime most face Justus this brings CIA’S involvement on the cold war era. Over throwing ligament government of Ethiopia and for putting as thru all this unpatented heat agents each other and for the down fall of Ethiopia .BBC have to investigate for the sack of Ethiopian people and it’s on good name. Ethiopian people and former government of Ethiopia are the victims of western specially CIA.

    complain about this comment

  • 147. At 6:29pm on 08 Mar 2010, Alem wrote:

    This is a disappointing work and questionable act by the BBC. Could some funds have been diverted? It is possible, but the allegation that 95% was diverted is unrealistic. What other evidences are there that support such testimonials? With the enormous international military support TPLF was receiving, it seems redundant to channel money to military uses.
    The timing of this reporting is also questionable. Why have these two men decided to tell their stories now? What key positions did these two have and why is the BBC considering them credible sources?
    This story is one sided and from the looks of it, intended to create a racket in advance of Ethiopian national election in May 2010. It is sad to see the BBC incompetent.

    complain about this comment

  • 148. At 6:34pm on 08 Mar 2010, Alem wrote:

    his is a disappointing work and questionable act by the BBC. Could some funds have been diverted? It is possible, but the allegation that 95% was diverted is unrealistic. What other evidences are there that support such testimonials? With the enormous international military support TPLF was receiving, it seems redundant to channel aid money to military uses.
    The timing of this reporting is also questionable. Why have these two men decided to tell their stories now? What “key” positions did these two have and why is the BBC considering them credible sources?
    This story is one sided and from the looks of it, intended to create a racket in advance of Ethiopian national election in May 2010. It is sad to see the BBC incompetent.

    complain about this comment

  • 149. At 6:50pm on 08 Mar 2010, siye wrote:

    BBC Sulled investigate CIA’S involvemant in this crime!!!!!!

    complain about this comment

  • 150. At 7:10pm on 08 Mar 2010, Pmike wrote:

    Dear Bob,

    You are a hero to save the people at that time. You are a honst and inellegent person. But accept the truth. The TPLF leaders cheated you and the world. It is a fact. With out our money they could have never deafted the derg army. I will suggest to find the fact, to accept the truth and to do the right thing; it will be a lesson for all leaders in the future. As yo said, ” I will properly report it and if there is any money missing, I will sue the Ethiopian government – who are the rebels who were fighting the war in Tigray – for that money back now and I will spend it on aid.” Please, Please do it and collect the money from them and help others. That is the right thing to do. Go, Go Bob.

    Peter Mike
    California

    complain about this comment

  • 151. At 7:49pm on 08 Mar 2010, merdasa wrote:

    If there is one thing that people should be surprised about, it must be why it took a quarter of a century for the truth to be told publicly. Otherwise, particularly the deception of the TPLF is something that the Ethiopian public know them for. How REST (Relief Society of Tigray), which is a multibillion conglomerate today, was formed is not such a big secret to the Ethiopian public. Then there is also what the CIA knew from the beginning and the American government supported it. The two former rebel commanders, who exposed this truth, mentioned this before in different interviews they gave in Amharic. Nothing is new about this. How did TPLF win the largest and well equipped army in sub-Saharan Africa then? Meles Zenawi, as many in the west, including Bob Geldof and Bono described him, is a very smart guy, actually much smarter than his admirers in the west can understand. It is all obvious how he fool them in the name of democracy and makes them do exactly what he wants them to do when it comes to aid even at the present day. The then rebel leader who diverted the money to buy weapons is today’s prime minister of Ethiopia who is a close friend of Tony Blair and close ally of Gordon Brown. He represents Africa in climate negotiations and very often invited to G8 summits because he is an important ally in the war on terror in the horn of Africa, though all he is doing is causing havoc in that part of Africa and terrorise his own people. That is how he is getting millions from the western donors and it is perfectly working for him.
    It is important and yet astonishing to listen to Bob Geldof every time he speaks about saving the hungry in Africa. Ethiopians are grateful to the donors and Geldof’s intention to help the poor. But, those of us who admire his passion and enthusiasm to help the poor, just wonder sometimes whether he is just a naive man who just listens to himself and throw tantrums when he hears things that do not fit his line of thinking. BBC’s investigation about what happened 25 years ago in Ethiopia is just the tip of the iceberg. The Western governments’ stance, when it comes to former rebels (or leaders as they are now in Ethiopia and in many African countries), no matter how ruthless they are, they are either condemned (like Robert Mugabe) or supported as friendly dictators (Meles Zenawi) depending on the national interest of countries particularly that of US and the UK.
    It is incomprehensible why many in the west think, given the size of aid money they pour in Ethiopia; Economic miracle is achieved by such dictators. Emergency food aid is important when the lives of millions in danger. Other economic and military aid should be tied to good governance. It has worked even in Africa. Look at the democracy that is flourishing in Ghana. The key to development is democracy.

    complain about this comment

  • 152. At 8:12pm on 08 Mar 2010, merdasa wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 153. At 8:49pm on 08 Mar 2010, Tumaoda wrote:

    Sir Bob Geldof is trying to defend the undefendable.
    Forget 1980’s aid, the current Productive safteynet (PSNP) money is the source of enjoyment for Woyane Cadres. They cook numbers and use the money for not only political purpose but also for any other unintended purpose they want.Aid money has been diverted and is being diverted for political purpose now as we are talking about it. This is the fact. People who are working for Woreda Rural Development office or Woreda adminstration know it very well. I believe little effort will uncover what is going on now but the government will be mad at any body trying to probe it ( remeber the Journalist Jason? who went to Tigrie region and arrested). Thank you BBC for telling the truth.

    complain about this comment

  • 154. At 8:52pm on 08 Mar 2010, fufi wrote:

    I’m on BBC side on this issue. Siphoning off aid money close to hundreds of millions of dollars, at the height of that terrible famine, is really criminal. Any chance that this might have happened should be investigated. The people who committed this horrifying act should be held accountable.

    complain about this comment

  • 155. At 9:23pm on 08 Mar 2010, SolodaFox wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 156. At 9:43pm on 08 Mar 2010, mamo wrote:

    Martin Plaut , thank you so much for bringing up the truth , and the BBC. But it is like a drop of water from the ocean , the current rebel group in power is corrupt and I expect you to do more for the voiceless people .
    The days are coming for the voice of people in Ethiopia to be heard all over the world.
    God bless you Martin Plaut

    complain about this comment

  • 157. At 10:00pm on 08 Mar 2010, Amadu wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 158. At 11:10pm on 08 Mar 2010, abi wrote:

    Dear editor, Thank you very much for standing upto the basic principles of BBC, a popular media of great values. The story which was carefuly investigated and revealed by Martin is surely a story we, a group of British citizens of Ethiopian origin and human rights campaigners knew all this time. The question is not whether or not it is a true story, the question is why it took so long to reveal this painful reality.
    Sir Bob gets my respect for his effort in the co-ordination and dissemination of the aids money generously donated by the British tax payers. That however, should not give Sir Bob the moral high ground to refute the revealation of the malpractice of the geurilla fighters who abused the good will of the British tax payers and misuse the fund leaving the starved people of Ethiopia to their unfotunate fate of dying with hunger. Such a cruelity on one’s own fellow citizens should not be endorsed to protect one’s ego and status if not the accountability that comes with the type of responsibility Sir Bob decided to take up at the time.

    The British government was aware of the fact that TPLF which voluntered to distribute the fund to the starved people, purchased a huge victorian property (which is now used a secon embassy for the ruling regime) here in central London at the time of property price boom. No one including Sir Bob’s personnel investigated how and why a guerilla fighter group managed to purchase such an expensive building at that time. Sir Bob may feel that Martin has opened up a can of worms as his own personnel at the time has a lot to answer about misuse of funds. However nothing will justify the use of fund raised for famine victims to arms purchase.

    The then armed geurella fighters who decieved the Western world and made them pay for their arm purchase, are now usin a similar tactic of using the Western world to pour aids money in the name of eradicating poverty in Ethiopia which is deposited in their foreign bank account.
    thank you BBC

    complain about this comment

  • 159. At 11:20pm on 08 Mar 2010, U14375641 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 160. At 11:53pm on 08 Mar 2010, Aynabeba wrote:

    This Mr.Andrew news may be relevant to us if the current development condition of the country is worst than 25 years ago. The EPRDF/TPLF presently changes the overall economic, social and political condition of the country Intensively. I believe the current upgrade has come as a result of all previous constructive decisions of EPRDF/TPLF. Tough the Mr. Andrew news are absolute rubbish, all our day to day decision of doing one thing has opportunity cost on every dropped alternatives. therefore the report would be relevant if the two failed betrayer described how many people died because of the shift of money. As a rational person we have to compare what would be our country position if Derg continue living until now, it is clear more than half of us could be died because of famine or massacred. Another unacceptable part of the report is it’s timing. As the Arena and Medirek opposition part(who hasn’t has any strategy or alternative policy to be a good competitive in the upcoming May 2002 election), they preferred to engage in anecdote by purchasing reporter’s like Mr. Andrew to propagate wrong and destructive information like this one. we Ethiopian aware every thing and don’t allow any body to disestablish our peace and we will keep sides with our extraordinarily brilliant leader like his Excellency Meles Zenawi. We haven’t ample time to hear those betrayers of x-TPLF fighter Mr. Gebremedihin (The Mengitu Hailmariam best Friend) and Mr Aregaw (the 19th century leader of TPLF kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk). All ways failed people points their finger on third party, rather than watch internally. This is clearly expressed on the hopeless two x-TPLF fighter Mr. Gebremedhin and Aregaw.

    complain about this comment

  • 161. At 00:06am on 09 Mar 2010, fikir1234 wrote:

    Dear Martin Plaut and the whole BBC team ,

    I thank you very much for taking this bold move even when many declined to support the documentary-

    REST has been set up to collect foreign fund not to help the poor in Tigray in the past and this truth still happens today within the organization- I can be a living wittenes for the current misuse of funds by REST!!!!!

    Kindly coninue making this investigation report so you could descohatver more horrible truth hidding from the world- after all we all have right to know and you are there for that

    complain about this comment

  • 162. At 00:54am on 09 Mar 2010, Eamonn wrote:

    I think its interesting and healthy for all that questions are being asked in relation to Ethiopia past and present.
    Mr Geldof can go on the defensive all he likes, but it would be better to investigate this issue and find out the clear truth.
    I’m still wondering why the hell the media and especially donar countries are not asking questions on current aid/funds being provided to Ethiopia.
    With Meles Zenawi being Prime Minister since 1995, we have witnessed a massacre of up to 200 people after 2005 elections on the streets of Addis Ababa and Irish Minister of State Lenihan ‘expresses grave concern at the situation in Ethiopia’ and carried on giving Aid!!
    Calls for concern from Human Rights Watch/Amnesty International on human rights abuse’s under the Zenawi regieme, and the harsh silencing of the media in Ethiopia, have been neverending.
    Last week an opposistion candidate was stabbed to death and other opposition candidates attacked.
    In february, Journalist Ezedin Mohamed was jailed for one year for criticising Meles Zenawi.
    Judge Birtukan Midekssa still languishes in prison for her views on the current Zenawi regime.She’s serving a life sentence for her views.
    Genocide Watch last week issued a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights asking for an investigation into the genocide/massacre of 400+ Anuk people in Gambella, Ethiopa in 2003.Human Rights Watch issued a report on this genocide in March 2005.And at the moment Anuk people are being pushed off there land by Goverment troops trying to secure the areas gas reserves by murder and intimidation of local people.Genocide Watch have tipped this as ‘the next Darfur’ due to recent massacre’s.
    In 2007, Steve Cradshaw, the United Nations advocacy director for Human Rights Watch went as far as likening the situation in the Ogaden region to “ a mini-Darfur.”

    And this is the regime that receives massive amount of money/aid every year from Irish Aid and the UK??
    Seriously.
    This all needs to be looked into and clarity on where funds go and have gone in the past should be insisted on.

    Thanks to Mr Plaut for opening up some dialogue at last on Ethiopia.

    Regards,
    Eamonn.
    Cork, Ireland.

    complain about this comment

  • 163. At 03:48am on 09 Mar 2010, untouchable_9 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 164. At 07:57am on 09 Mar 2010, Martyn abrahams wrote:

    Back in the 80’s I do remember watching an excerpt on a television news report questioning the validity of the undertaking of Band-Aid.
    Back then there was talk of the food rotting in warehouses because it was not reaching the victims of the famine. Even then there was controversy over what was happening to the money and the food aid with millions of pounds worth of donors’ money going to waste because of this.
    As an African we laughed at the naivety of the European mentality (even back then) that all the food aid would go to those who needed it and that it would by-pass the militias without so much as a blink. What planet was Sir Bob from?

    Sir Bob should just accept that whilst he may not be complicit in the dealings of the militias and the money going to weapons. His obvious naivety in his good motives has lead him to this point in time that he will have to pay the price of that naivety and if not, cover his own embarrasement by blaming somebody else for this unfortunate turn of events.

    complain about this comment

  • 165. At 08:24am on 09 Mar 2010, tatatata wrote:

    look below at what Gebru Asrat(former top TPLF) had said on this issue yesterday

    A very open statement indeed:

    journalist: There is the controversial story that broke this week in the international media: It claimed the TPLF used aid sent to buy food to buy weapons to fight the Derg during the armed struggle. Do you have any knowledge of this?
    Gebru: This is a clear issue. I don’t think anyone can make any political gains out of it. The foreigners, the western countries, were not providing assistance with solely humanitarian motives. That has to be understood.
    The previous geopolitical line-up forced them to support some fronts. That is what I understand and what I know since I was there. There was a clear presence of the Soviets in Ethiopia during that time and the West felt they lost their traditional presence. They wanted to change that by supporting the opposition front and they did it. It was to alter the geopolitical situation.
    For the countries it would have been unlawful to openly support these fronts, so they did so under the cover of humanitarian assistance. I was laughing yesterday when I heard even Shabia playing this blame game: it mainly built its army by funds generated through the Eritrean Relief Association. That is how they fought the war.
    TPLF did the same, they know it, that’s why the funds came. But TPLF spent huge amounts on humanitarian assistance. I think it should be known that TPLF undertook various rehabilitation efforts and daily assistance, even buying farming tools and hybrid grains. The assistance that came was huge so it did use it for party purposes also. I don’t think either the Western countries or the aid agencies, or even the former fighters, can accuse anybody over this
    journalist: Are you saying the donors were not tricked as claimed, they knowingly gave the aid to be used by the TPLF?

    Gebru: Yes, it is a known fact. They did it purposely.”

    complain about this comment

  • 166. At 09:04am on 09 Mar 2010, Melkam Eyeta wrote:

    Great Job BBC! And I have appreciated the writer of this interesting and golden news! Great determination and respect of basics in journalism is a number one and golden reward to both the journalist and his affiliated news company! Nothing else!
    Sir Bob Geldof and others can forward their complaints without crying as the writer and BBC did! Period! No cry! No shock!
    Dear all viewers of this news,
    I would like to ask you to cooperate with poor and innocent Ethiopians who have been under severe oppression and in the vicious circle of all kinds of atrocities by Meles! This is not a game that ends in virtual reality! It had happened on the other part of the earth called Ethiopia in 1985! Period!
    Dear Bob Geldof! We have been appreciating your all round efforts in helping those voiceless and poor human creatures who have been still under suffering without any justification, just being human! Meles doesn’t want to see them as human being as they are not qualifying his criterion to live in that land! So, Bob, my brother, we are really in the mood of limitless atmosphere of angry! Just let us alone! We need freedom, justice and democracy like you have demanded them! We are not fool and we do have our own limits to absorb as any human beings do! The so called victory of Meles in the war was achieved at the cost of great human suffering not only, as many had been broadcasting, because of war damage but TPLF’s intentional sabotages had more hands on that great devastation of human kind from that part of the earth! Enough is enough! We had our enough! Bob+Let us move together instead of being another causes of everlasting oppression of Ethiopians!

    I got this paragraphs from the article”Lifting the Burden of Poverty”

    By Douglas S. Winnail From www.TomorrowsWorld.org

    Biblical instructions for protecting the poor reflect the mind of God. Many scriptures show that God cares deeply about those made in His image, and that He will bring retribution on those who oppress, exploit or ignore the needs of the poor. David wrote: “The Lord is high above all nations… He raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the ash heap… He will bring justice to the poor of the people; He will save the children of the needy, and will break in pieces the oppressor” (Psalm 113:4–7; 72:1–4). Solomon echoes this same warning: “Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the Lord will take up their case and will plunder those who plunder them” (Proverbs 22:22–23, NIV). However, the Apostle Paul also stressed the importance of personal responsibility: “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
    The Bible offers specific advice to leaders, because leaders have a tremendous effect on the people they lead. “A ruler who lacks understanding is a great oppressor, but he who hates covetousness will prolong his days… When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan… The righteous considers the cause of the poor, but the wicked does not understand such knowledge” (Proverbs 28:16; 29:2, 7). Billions of people today suffer from the painful effects of poverty because their leaders do not follow these simple yet profound instructions that God recorded long ago in the Bible.

    Good luck! I hate corruption!

    complain about this comment

  • 167. At 09:24am on 09 Mar 2010, Tariku wrote:

    Dear BBC editors I have been following your programme specially on this issue since the the first date up to now.I will say that you have failed in your reports in many ways since have no consulted any of the charity organizations involved in the aid work at that time. Moreover, it is not wise to use a failed ex-fighter as a credible source for your programme. This persons have never said any thing for more than 25 years until now but this time since they are in desperado because of the acheivements being made by the EPRDF they came organized to black mail the front. Here let me give you a good evidence that the witness given by Aregawi Berhe are not credible:-
    On a 12 pages paper posted by this person on 09 October 2009,
    1) He mentions the amount of money and it says ” … 100,000,000 Birr (not USD) has been brought from Sudan by a group of pepole led by Awualom and Seyoum…” here the fallacy lies it it was reported to you in USD while in his paper it is in Birr!!!
    2) In this same paper, it farter indicates that “… Legesse (Meles) proposed that 45% should go for the TPLF and 50% for the establishment of Marxist Leninist league and the rest 5% shall go to the drought affected people…” mind you 5% of the 100 millon Birr means only 5 million Birr which any normal minded person can immagine that it will never feed any portion of the already starved people.Moreover,this document never mentions about the purchase of weapon with this aid money. So please try to get full information from independent sources before airing your programme based on information obtained from politically biased people, like Aregawi. I have the full PDF version of Aregawi’s paper in Tigrigna language which I downloded. So, I can send you a copy of this document as an attachment if needed.

    complain about this comment

  • 168. At 12:48pm on 09 Mar 2010, sol wrote:

    LONG LIVE THE BBC
    LONG LIVE THE BBC HEROS
    LONG LIVE FREEDOM OF SPEECH

    Yes Yes Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BBC
    You made it crystal clear what the ethiopian regime is
    for the rest of the world. Sir bob geldof why did you lash at the heros? what is the point of it? You should have been part of the research.

    complain about this comment

  • 169. At 1:25pm on 09 Mar 2010, Embee wrote:

    complain about this comment

  • 170. At 2:08pm on 09 Mar 2010, Embee wrote:

    Thank you Martin Plaut, for bringing the story to the whole world. We Ethiopians knew what TPLF did to us at the time our desperation 25 years ago and TPLF is still doing the same thing what they doing then to our people. I think Bob Geldof should investigate more by teeming up with BBC to find out the truth. We Ethiopians assure Mr. Geldof , he will find even more crime than diverting funds to buy weapons by TPLF. Mr Geldof can go on the defensive all he likes to preserve his colorful legacy. However, Mr. Geldof legacy will be preserved even more if the truth comes out.
    Even so it troubles me, why BBC took 25 years to report such a story while ever walks of life in Ethiopia knew about the crime, I encourage BBC to continue such good job. We Ethiopians have so many untold crimes stories which are done by TPLF during TPLF’s gorilla years and after TPLF came to power. Probably, BBC might be instrumental to exposing TPLF crimes and open up the international community deaf ear towards TPLF.

    complain about this comment

  • 171. At 3:33pm on 09 Mar 2010, SolodaFox wrote:

    Dear Mr. Whitehead,
    I read your response to the deserved anger that has been raised towards your unsubstantiated allegation of the use of aid money to buy weapons. However, you have again failed to address the main questions raised about the report. The argument is that your report lacks professionalism both in terms of the methodology used or the material proof you presented. Of course, it is unbalanced by any standards (not surprised seeing past Martin Plaut’s reports on Ethiopia). I would not claim there is any bad motive for your shoddy reporting, but you still owe us explanation for the questions that are being asked. Otherwise, you have to retract your report. Again, here are some of the basic questions that you still need to address.
    1. You said “the report presents compelling evidence, that some of the famine relief donations were diverted by a powerful rebel group to buy weapons”. Where is the compelling evidence? Two disgruntled former guerrilla fighters? Do they have documents or tapes that can be proven as original to corroborate their allegations? Your proof is “Martin tracked down two key former members of the TPLF who explained how they managed to divert the money. They are now at odds with the then TPLF leader, Meles Zenawi, who is currently Ethiopia’s Prime Minister. But they are credible voices.” Two former rebels who have a grudge against the TPLF can not be used to justify these allegations as correct or right. In fact, one of them who defected to the Derge has blackmailed the TPLF on several occasions and it is hard to believe his witness. The second witness, Aregawi, has also been engaged in the exiled opposition camp and it is difficult to accept his story at face value. For example, many have challenged his recent interview with another British journalist about his role and contribution in the armed struggle and he was not able to address those concerns. Thus, your methodology is flawed and your sources of evidence are difficult to trust!
    2. What is the measure for these two people to be “credible sources”? Just, because Martin would like us to believe that they are? The proof has to be presented unequivocally if you are genuine in your reporting. It seems someone has an axe to grind here!
    3. What do you think is the aid community having a sound off uproar on this report? “Some relief agencies – including Christian Aid and Cafod – pointed us towards their staff involved in directing food supplies 25 years ago, and those voices were included.” Why is Sir Geldof angry about your reporting? There is no reason for these parties to support one group over the other especially given the allegation is very serious.
    4. You conclude your comment by saying that “The documentary did not say that most famine relief money was used to buy weapons – it did not suggest that any relief agencies were complicit in the diversion of funds – it explicitly stated that “whatever the levels of deception, much aid did reach the starving. But there is a clear public interest in determining whether some money given as famine relief ended up buying guns and bullets.” So, what is the amount of money that has been used for this? How was it transferred? Gebremedhin’s word is not enough here. Finally, who has interest on this story at this point in time? Why do you have interest on this after 25 years and when it is election time in Ethiopia?
    5. Did you interview any one from REST or from the accused group? How about PM Zenawi who is the main character in your story?

    Finally, if BBC has spent a year and probably thousands of tax payers’ money to prepare this report, I feel sorry for the British tax payers.

    complain about this comment

  • 172. At 5:51pm on 09 Mar 2010, Davidethics wrote:

    This is what the BBC should be doing, courageous reporting without fear of consequences. This is what makes the licence fee worth paying.

    complain about this comment

  • 173. At 8:25pm on 09 Mar 2010, Ashenafi Markos wrote:

    I completely agree with this BBC report that aid money was used to buy arms for TPLF and EPLF. I am saying this because I had the opportunity to be present in a meeting led by senior EPRDF leaders (the then TPLF) in 2008. They were H.E. Addisu Legese, H.E. Tefera Walwa, Mr. Hilawi Yosef and others.

    They were giving us lectures about revolutionary democracy, constitution, rural development, etc in Ethiopia. At that moment, when they were asked about the source of fund for the TPLF business companies like Mesobo cement factory, Dashen Brewery, Wegagen bank, etc they responded that the finance was collected from different donors during the war against the Derg regime in the 1980’s.

    It should be clear to Bob Geldof and other aid organization staffs that the seeds for the thriving TPLF business empire were planted back in 1978 when the Relief Society of Tigrai (REST), the financial umbrella of the rebel movement in Northern Ethiopia was created as an NGO. Though REST was a relief organization, a TPLF Central Committee member headed it; and it collected donations from the international community and channelled it to the TPLF, playing a key role in the survival and ultimate victory of the TPLF over the Marxist military Derg.

    After the TPLF came to power in 1991, REST was formally registered with the Ethiopian government’s Relief & Rehabilitation Commission as an “NGO”. As the financial backbone of the TPLF, REST continued enjoying state protection; and the restructured REST emerged as the richest “NGO” in the African continent.

    In the summer of 1995, about four years after the rebel group took control of power in Ethiopia, the TPLF established a stronger peer for REST – the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigrai (EFFORT). Business documents suggest that EFFORT started its business venture with a lofty investment volume of about 2.7 billion birr — then just under U.S. $1 billion.

    Finally I want to suggest that the journalist should also ask the TPLF leaders how was REST then EFFORT were established and what was their financial source at that time ?

    complain about this comment

  • 174. At 07:35am on 10 Mar 2010, Olga Rikova wrote:

    Andrew and the BBC editors,

    Well done for telling it like it is and standing by your journalists. As a freelance writer working in Southern Africa I know exactly the challenges they face in securing credible sources of information. I also know the kind of irritation they receive from readers when what they read is not what they want to hear.

    Media houses should report what the evidence suggests – the public certainly has a right to know.

    Oli (a Czech on Africa blog)

    complain about this comment

  • 175. At 11:26am on 10 Mar 2010, spotthelemon wrote:

    The evidence seems to to be almost all hearsay, much, if not all, of it from unreliable sources, some from extremely unreliable sources. There seems to be a discrepancy between the headline grabbing claims and the actual content of the documentary. The BBC was right to make & broadcast the documentary but it needed to be more careful about how it advertised it.

    complain about this comment

  • 176. At 12:03pm on 10 Mar 2010, coldboy1 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 177. At 12:12pm on 10 Mar 2010, abiy legesse wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 178. At 2:09pm on 10 Mar 2010, samuel guna wrote:

    Better late than never! even though it takes 25 years to dig out the truth we appreciate what bbc have done so far specialy andrew whitehead and some thing that confused me is what makes bob angrey
    as far as i know no body blame him for some thing happend in the past its not his fault but the rebels who grip power with the help of aid money but what he is doing now is a real mistake and its difficult
    for most of ethiopians who live under brutal regime to take as unintentional so i would like to tell bob history show us every powerful dictators eventually come down so tplf too.at that time not only this well known truth but also another shocking story of tplf will come out like the one ,,,the bombardment of howizen orchestrated by the current government ,,, by the way this story can`t be disputable you can get the video taken by tplf professional camera man in differnt angle ,,,so please bbc ,,,keep up you good job and be ,,,voice for voiceless !!!!

    complain about this comment

  • 179. At 3:49pm on 10 Mar 2010, alemayehu wrote:

    The truth is this. If there was no BBC there would never have been Bandaid. It was BBC that bought the story to the world, not once not twice but three times and more if we count all the early warning reports that BBC has done and is doing BEFORE famines occur in Ethiopia. I don’t understand why Geldof is not thanking BBC for raising this issue so that it can never again be repeated elsewhere or in Ethiopia itself. After all we have never had sight of an after action report covering all the activities done showing how all the money was spent. We do not have quantifiable reports of the impact of BANDAID so must relay on such exposes of what happened from people who were there. Why is the onus on BBC to provide evidence when we have seen none to the contrary from Bob. If only Bobs ego could be turned into sacks of grain..there would never again be hunger in the horn of Africa. Thank you BBC for doing your job. Lets see if others can tell us what their terms of reference were and how they performed so we can evaluate the whole thing better. What have you done with my XXXing money Bob? ICRC? OXFAM? Norweigan Peoples Aid??..hello? but a reply came there none. Lets see if they dare speak up for themselves and let the world know what they were up to in Sudan. Who will open the Pandoras box? There are those who know what the “vanilla guerillas” did that summer.

    complain about this comment

  • 180. At 4:04pm on 10 Mar 2010, SolodaFox wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 181. At 4:11pm on 10 Mar 2010, ealemu wrote:

    Dear Martin Plaut & the Editors of BBC,

    Let me congratulate you on the outstanding work of journalism and well researched broadcast on how aid money has been used to buy weapons by the former Marxist leaders of TPLF, who later became the despot tyrants at the helm of power in Ethiopia for the last 20 years. I concur with many of my compatriots, who stated that what has been disclosed to the rest of the world by the BBC is just the tip of the iceberg on the long list of the heinous crimes committed by Meles Zenawi & Co, who are still usurping power in the country.

    There is latest news from Ethiopia that other ex-TPLF leaders, who also distanced themselves from the party in recent years, are confirming that it was an open secret that as rebels in the 1980s they used aid money to buy weapons. Would those who were shamefully dismissing the testimony of the two previous TPLF leaders (Gebremedhin & Aregawi) also insist that these testimonies are ‘rubbish’ just because these individuals are in opposition?

    I would urge Bob Geldof & other NGO leaders, who are currently whinging about the BBC broadcast, rather than collaborating ann demanding for full investigation of the matter, to come and hear more testimonies & evidence on how TPLF not only used, but is still using aid for political purpose, at a meeting that will be held in the House of Commons on Monday 15 March 2010. The meeting is organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Third World Solidarity in collaboration with members of all sectors of the Ethiopian community in Britain including journalists, civic groups & human rights activists. Please find details of the meeting below:

    Date: Monday 15 March 2010
    Time: 18.30 – 21.00 hrs
    Venue: Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House, Bridge Street Westminster, London SW1A 2WL.

    Finally, let me end by referring to a quote from a brilliant piece by Alem Mamo on this subject entitled ‘Geldof should be held accountable’:

    ‘In the end, the highlight shouldn’t be about Sir Bob Geldof or any other celebrity saint. This most certainly is about more than 80 million Ethiopians suffering under the tyrannical rule of TPLF, partly because of the aid money that built the political machinery of one of the most ruthless regimes in Africa, and the Ethiopian people continue to struggle to rid of the menace of Meles Zenawi and his gang. Any emergency aid or development aid, therefore, should keep the principles of Do No Harm at the forefront.’

    Please find the link below for the full article.

    http://www.ethiomedia.com/course/6250.html

    Thank you.
    EA.

    complain about this comment

  • 182. At 4:11pm on 10 Mar 2010, fine2 wrote:

    BBC, your report has created a motivation to speak about the truth. some facts and evidences are coming from different direction. you may find the latest information came from the Former General of TPLF Siye Abraha what he has said today. please BBC don’t stop your investigation.

    please find all those resource people and talk to them before the killer take any action on them.

    complain about this comment

  • 183. At 7:51pm on 10 Mar 2010, ENDRE wrote:

    Thank you very much for sad Story,Thank you the BBC and Martin Plaut.!

    complain about this comment

  • 184. At 9:23pm on 10 Mar 2010, Guma Guda wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 185. At 11:12pm on 10 Mar 2010, Fekele wrote:

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank BBC for being voice for voiceless people of Ethiopian, we Ethiopian community living in UK support the report that BBC is published last week, the report is based on credible evidences. The high profile politician from N.america has testified that the aid money was diverted to buy armaments. I do not understand what sir Bob needed any more evidences . I strongly advice Sir Bob to sue the Ethiopian regime for the money to pay back. The people of Ethiopia deserve democracy, freedom and justice more than a bag of wheat. The current regime TPLF never stopped using food aid for its own political and military objectives. Therefore any NGO who are still helping Ethiopian people please open your eyes and ears, watch and listen where the money goes.

    complain about this comment

  • 186. At 11:15pm on 10 Mar 2010, Dr PL de Silva wrote:

    The BBC must be commended for the excellent background investigation carried out by the Africa Editor Martin Plaut and for making it public.

    In 2000 Aregawi Berhe was invited to make a presentation to ECOSOC at the UN HQ in New York and he made similar assertions to that of his recent testimony to the BBC. The then Japanese Permanent Representative to the UN commented that it was the most lively and encouraging commentary and discussion that he had seen in a long time in the normally dry and procedural atmosphere of the ECOSOC chamber.

    I would also recommend people who are interested in this debate to read Aregawi Berhe’s article “Success Story or State of Chaos?” published in 2000 by Macmillan and St Martin’s Press.

    Last but not least, Sir Bob Geldof should do his own INDEPENDENT background checks before casting aspersions on the character of anyone, let alone that of the BBC Africa Editor Martin Plaut and the former military commander of the TPLF Aregawi Berhe. I strongly recommend him to have a personal, face-to-face meeting with the both of them to verify the facts first hand sooner rather than later.

    Same goes for the Independent Newspaper, not forgetting all the bureaucrats running OXFAM, Christian Aid, atc., who appear to have responded in knee jerk fashion, probably to protect their bread and butter business.

    complain about this comment

  • 187. At 00:23am on 11 Mar 2010, Abel wrote:

    I commend the BBC for uncovering this painful truth of ours (Ethiopians) and of the well-meaning donors. For those who know the nature of TPLF the story is hardly surprising. We already knew it since a long time ago. But Western media have been giving us deaf ears to such abuses of aid money by TPLF. I believe western society has the right to know how their aid money is spent (and they should know all the tricks of African dictators too). There is no doubt donors (and aid agencies)provided the money for a sacred cause, but whoever controls power in Ethiopia uses aid money to kill and terrorise its own people.

    I congratulate the BBC for this report and I would vote for nominating the reporter for any prestigeous award in journalism.

    Well done!

    complain about this comment

  • 188. At 09:39am on 11 Mar 2010, Fiona wrote:

    As a previous Coordinator for a consortium of NGOs supporting cross border relief operations from Sudan into Tigray in the mid 1980s, I want to challenge the main allegation in this report, that much of the aid going cross border in the mid 1980’s went to the TPLF and was used for armaments.

    Most of the aid going cross border into Tigray at that time was in kind rather than cash. The majority of funds coming into consortium budgets I was coordinating were used to purchase goods which were then shipped to Port Sudan and transported cross border into Tigray, and so could not have been misappropriated for arms purchases. All of these transactions, including what small amounts of cash went into the region, were subject to careful financial reporting and external audit by individual donating agencies as well as the consortium lead agency. While 100% control and/or accounting of funds donated can never be guaranteed in any situation, the suggestion that 95% of aid could have gone missing or been misused during the period referred to is utterly absurd.

    It is difficult to understand why these two ex TPLF fighters, both with their own issues and history of opposition to TPLF are given more credibility than others involved in the cross border operations at the time. I met Aregawi Berhe in London, along with others working to support relief efforts in TPLF areas, after he left TPLF. He made considerable efforts to persuade those of us involved at the time to break off relations with TPLF and REST. So why did he not use such an explosive argument then, i.e. that 95% of the aid we were all working so hard to mobilise and transport cross border was being diverted to buy weapons, if there was indeed any truth in it? Are you seriously suggesting that after 25 years of active and vocal opposition, his conscience is only now forcing him to speak out publicly? Is it really a coincidence that this coincides with the run up to a critical election in Ethiopia contested by an opposition group with which he has been associated for some years now?

    The issues raised about use and misuse of aid are important ones, although the timing, and the presentation of events of over 25 years ago as a current news story are a bit bizarre. But it is the lack of balance, and over reliance on limited, dubious sources of information which makes this such an incomplete and irresponsible piece of journalism. In the interests of fairness, and particularly given the sensitivities in the current political climate in Ethiopia of the timing and the nature of such allegations, I cannot even begin to understand how you can justify broadcasting such a damaging piece without having talked directly to REST or given them an opportunity to respond at any time during what is described as a year’s exhaustive investigation.

    complain about this comment

  • 189. At 10:57am on 11 Mar 2010, mcfreaki wrote:

    To be honest, this whole thing happened more than two decades ago- why don’t they just admit what they did, apologize, and then try and get along?

    ugh… why don’t more people think like this? the world would be much better if people would just admit to past mistakes, and put them behind them… and if everyone would just stop fighting for ultimately petty reasons- we’re all just a bunch of bald monkeys clinging to a rock flying through space at rediculous speeds at the end of the day, why fight over it?

    complain about this comment

  • 190. At 11:18am on 11 Mar 2010, tatatata wrote:

    Dear Fiona

    I apprecaite your response.However,as a vetraan humanitarian and person involved in the matter , i would have expected much from you.I see much inclination and siding to the TPLF/EPRDF governmnet.What really stuns me is that those of you who are in the category of aid providers and coordinators is your stance conviction that the aid is never been abused.Who in this world with a rational mind says aid given out either in cash or grain in the midst of a multi dimensional bloody civil war that took so many lives and destroyed infrastructure, reaches the intended target faultlessly?
    ”It is difficult to understand why these two ex TPLF fighters, both with their own issues and history of opposition to TPLF are given more credibility than others involved in the cross border operations at the time.” By the way who do think would be much credible than these two men?Gebremedhin was the TPLF Finance Head and Dr Aregawi was the founder of TPLF.
    I hope the time has come for the aid model to change.This past week alone Media reports have alleged misuse of aid in Somalia, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and El Salvador and South Africa on a fairly grand scale.
    Generally, aid as a model is so damaging to humanity.I know an American aid worker in Ethiopia who used to get paid 100,000 birr per month.For God’s sake , this much for one man where 100,000 children are sleeping with one meal a day?The aid model has been dehumanizing,lacking strategic accountablity and trasparency.Except for some emeregncy situations such as in Haiti, this model’s damage has been higher than its benefit.
    And in your second paragraph you said “Most of the aid going cross border into Tigray at that time was in kind rather than cash. The majority of funds coming into consortium budgets I was coordinating were used to purchase goods which were then shipped to Port Sudan and transported cross border into Tigray, and so could not have been misappropriated for arms purchases.”
    This statment holds little water in the fact that it amounts to saying the photo that posted on BBC and showed Gebremedhin Araya (L), Max Peberdy (center) and Tekleweyni Assefa, a TPLF senior cadre who to this day is the director of REST, the so-called ‘humanitarian wing’ of the criminal TPLF group never existed at all.
    Second to that Gebremedhin proved that the grain they said bought from one and took money from the others was sand.Who else do you want that to prove it for you than this very man, who has been telling this story for the past 20 years in his own language.

    At the end of your comment you said “In the interests of fairness, and particularly given the sensitivities in the current political climate in Ethiopia of the timing and the nature of such allegations, I cannot even begin to understand how you can justify broadcasting such a damaging piece without having talked directly to REST or given them an opportunity to respond at any time during what is described as a year’s exhaustive investigation.”
    This paragraph still shows your partial view and stance.There was no timing in this story.Only those of you who only took Meles Zenawi’s preaching are echoing the same song.Both of these respected individuals have been telling this same story for over 20 years now but to a deaf ear.However, Martin Plaut was informed about this isse one year ago by Ethiopians living in UK thus he began his investigation.These two guys didn’t ask him to air the news at this time.He finished his analysis at this time of the year which is the eve of Ethiopia’s 4th farcical election. Will it make any change ? NO.Because its a known fact that the slef proclaimed PM of Ethiopia is gonna win it again not by the peoples’ vove but by the barrel of the gun just like 2005.
    Secondly, you asked why BBC didn’t try to balance the stoty.But if you read Martin’s report well, his attempets to talk with the Meles Zenawi were turned down.
    I hope BBC will investiagte more and report on the issue. The issue of REST and aid to Tigray is still motional meaning the private businesses run by TPLF leaders in the country are true witnesses for that.
    If BBC makes a simple investigation on the accounts of the current TPLF leaders , i hope the truth comes out.
    Dear Fiona, plus to this if you just had read the 190 comments written above you would’t have dared to challange it.Anyways, just try to listen and lend an ear to those few individuls who have no support and are being labelled ”decedents”,”mad” and ”ridiclous”, if not CIA’s report.

    complain about this comment

  • 191. At 2:10pm on 11 Mar 2010, Menelik wrote:

    Hefty Fines For Ethiopian Publishing Houses: New York – The Ethiopian Supreme Court reinstated fines on Monday ag… http://bit.ly/azrpr2

    complain about this comment

  • 192. At 3:30pm on 11 Mar 2010, Hagos wrote:

    Thanks BBC for the great job in exposing the crime of the 21st Century that is almost proportional to the Holocaust.

    The rulers in Ethiopia are responsible for death of millions. Some in the West must take responsibility for collaborating with thugs who have blood in their hands. They should be ashamed of their ignorance or active participation.

    Dead Aid campaigners should go back to there routines. For many Africans, Geldof and Bono are just enablers of the status quo.

    complain about this comment

  • 193. At 9:46pm on 11 Mar 2010, Aynabeba wrote:

    I have some question for Martin Plaut, the Editors of BBC and all Ethiopian who supports the report “do you believe rising this issue after 25 years enhance our country development?”,”do you believe it will strength our unity and foster our democracy process one step a head?”,I think this report is target to benefit our beloved country enemy like Shabiya and some Somali terrorist group whose eye’s always covered with red by our strong culture of harmonization on national issues and by internal stabilities. I do not believe, though the rubbish report is correct, any rational person can decides on the same issues in similar way when being a freedom fighter and being a governing body. As freedom fighter any body can decides on the way which will expedite the removal of the dictator leader and as country governing body any rational person follow all lines that will enhance the country development. we have to understand EPRDF/TPLF is in different strategy and responsibility when we are talking about this issue.It is senseless to blame one country leading party on it’s action as freedom fighter. I am so happy by all Ethiopian who are leaving here for not give 1% attention for this(BBC) rubbish reports.

    complain about this comment

  • 194. At 08:48am on 12 Mar 2010, ealemu wrote:

    Aynabeba,
    Grow up please! How could you try to justify the crime of TPLF in starving their own Tigray people by preventing the aid grain reached the needy and turning it round and round to sell it to the naive Western NGOs? I have read Gebremedihin’s testimony in a book called “Talaku Sera” “The Great Mischeif” when I was still a student in 1989/90. So this not something that appered after 25 years. Apparently, at the end some of the grain that was kept in TPLF storage got rotten and ultimately wasted without reaching the people. Some of the TPLF officials who were unhappy about this and complained have been removed from their post and disappeared without trace.

    If you are trying to argue the TPLF leaders, who committed this dispicable crime have suddenly reformed over night and become saint I think you are fooling your self rather than any other person. In addition there is ample evidence that they continued to build their ethnocentric empire throughout the country and are now on line to be investigated for Genocide and crime against humanity by the ICC.

    I am baffled by your referral of development and democracy that is happening in the country, as these are the last two things that exist in Ethiopia right now. Currently there are nearly 12 million people in need of aid and there is very little political space for any credible opposition to compete in the upcoming election that there is no hope of seeing any kind of free and fair election.

    Everyone knows this is as a result of lack of good governance in Ethiopia and two decades misrule of TPLF that is dragging the country to unpredicatable catastrophe.

    Thanks.
    EA

    complain about this comment

  • 195. At 09:35am on 12 Mar 2010, Gebre wrote:

    Dear Feona,

    I don’t think you have followed the whole story. Some of the cash was actually given direct to the rebel leaders. The so called ‘in kind’ aid that crossed the border to Ethiopia was also bought from the rebels themselves who posed as independent merchants tha sold sacks full of sand rather than grain. That is how the money got in to the hands of the rebles. If you have seen the photo on the report that depicts the transaction going on, both the buyer and seller were rebel members fooling the aid worker. And 80% of the grain sold is actually sacks full of sand. This is as witnessed by the rebel member himself. He is still alive and has beein giving the same witness for the past 20 or 15 years.

    complain about this comment

  • 196. At 09:55am on 12 Mar 2010, Laz wrote:

    This comment has been referred to the moderators. Explain.

  • 197. At 5:34pm on 12 Mar 2010, mengistu wrote:

    The comment reminded me one Ethiopian expression. Animals get together and planned to visit Donkey because she was absent and sick. When they reached the house of Donkey she was very sick, than they asked her to say something before leaving this earth, she replayed ‘’if I pass away I wish the grass would stop growing’’. This is how old generation of Ethiopia thinking. To me even if the report is true, as true Ethiopian I have to leave this for the people who were involved on the matter, now Ethiopia on the other side of the coin. But what I assure to the reporter of the news is someone who has another agenda on the situation had used the open class of BBC and your mind. The truth fact of the time is soldiers of the group registered as beneficiary and received monthly ration with civilian. To me this is ok because during the time it is not possible to identify soldiers and civilian. During the time I was participated in one of the huge relief operation [Joint Relief Operation or JRP] I can assure how much the rebel leaders were sensitive on relief operation issue on the time.
    The report hearted everyone who was participant of the time life risky operation. The history and God of Ethiopia will judge peoples who are behind the report. I hope BBC will either apologize or correct the report.

    complain about this comment

  • 198. At 10:28pm on 12 Mar 2010, Aynabeba wrote:

    I always wonder why some Diaspora,who assumed them-self as a professional,are pleased on every negative news which will damaged the country image internationally.The funnies thing is they still need to run this country after damaging it’s image.

    The other surprise part is the BBC reporter frame of mind. He assume that all we African people currently used our brain as it were 25 yrs ago. He doesn’t believe by our learning and development. However, we African forget all the crime that western did in Africa during colonization (for example what The Great Britain did in Kenya, Zimbabwe etc)by assuming that now we are leaving in 21 century and they couldn’t be done that if it was today. Therefore, the over all issues behind this rubbish report is his wrong mindset on our African people.

    The two betrayer’s of their home country,i.e G/medhin and Aregay, and their alliance Arena and Medirek the Ethiopia People will pay their rewards by not giving poll to them and by running the election process peacefully contrary to their wish.

    Finally, I advice The BBC management must have to request excuse The Ethiopian People for the unprofessional and rubbish report of Mr. Andrew.

    complain about this comment

  • 199. At 10:33pm on 12 Mar 2010, tatatata wrote:

    This comment has been referred to the moderators. Explain.

  • 200. At 10:23am on 13 Mar 2010, Sure wrote:

    It was a trick assigned (created) by the top leaders for the NGOs. I received a great amount of money from the NGOs and the money was automatically taken by (the TPLF) leaders.The money, much of it, the leaders put it in their accounts in Western Europe. Some of it was used to buy weapons. The people did not get half a kilogram of maize.’
    http://allafrica.com/stories/201003111064.html

    complain about this comment

  • 201. At 1:47pm on 13 Mar 2010, viip wrote:

    thanks

    complain about this comment

  • 202. At 1:51pm on 13 Mar 2010, abe wrote:

    THANKS BBC,The truth will come out, and God bless Ethiopia
    THANKS BBC

    complain about this comment

  • 203. At 2:09pm on 13 Mar 2010, Abeba wrote:

    Thank you BBC. Good job Martin!!!

    Bob Geldof should be angry at the rebel group (TPLF). BBC told the world the truth. TPLF used the aid money for buying weapons. we Ethiopians knew this crime. But, the international community seem to give a deaf ear to our cry.

    I was very disappointed by Bobs Geldofs reaction. He should be angry at the rebel group (TPLF), not BBC. It is very clear that the BBC report is based on credible evidences. Few months ago, Seeye Abraha who was the commander of the TPLF, said, “As a veteran politician and an ex-commander of an insurgent army that brought down the Derg military regime, I know relief aid could be misused to purchase ammunition, weapons, spare parts, fuel and other materials.”

    complain about this comment

  • 204. At 2:26pm on 13 Mar 2010, MeeTssNaaNaaT wrote:

    Thankyou Andrew Whitehead

    This is the first time I admire a BBC report. Go and uncover it. There are a lot of mistries that you can discover for which the west was spending its money. Investigate EFFORT the conglomerate which owns most businesses in Ethiopia and owned by those very peoples.If BBC digs further they will uncover a lot of things such as the money that people gave at that time was also used to start companies affliated to the TPLF party under the Endowment Fund of Tigray (EFFORT)http://www.effortgroup.org/index.htm
    One just wonders when their lies and cheating will end.
    once again thankyou BBC
    ASA

    complain about this comment

  • 205. At 2:36pm on 13 Mar 2010, Addiswork wrote:

    Thank you Mr Martin Plaut and BBC!
    This information was one of the many informations the Ethiopians knew about it and I thank you to bring it up at this time to show how the heartless people are ruling the country and the suffering of the Ethiopians. The so called the new “MEDREK” leaders are part of this ruthless action, and we shoud say NO to them too. At this moment they are selling the most fertile land to forigen countries and neo-colinialsim back to our beloved country. This will lead the country to another huge nationalproblems. Pls do some reportage about this too,thnx again. Ethiopia will Prevail !

    complain about this comment

  • 206. At 2:48pm on 13 Mar 2010, Matebe wrote:

    Thank you BBC

    One can say that the BBC report. revealed the secret that the Marxist rebel groups maliciously siphoned Aid Money in the name of Relief Society of Tigray and used over 90 % of it to buy arms and to its war drum. The sad thing is that that was used to kill Ethiopians who were defending the integrity of Ethiopia and hunger was wiping the Tigray people who were under the control of TPLF. The information was afloat for many years. But we can agree on one thing that the evil act of TPLF was given attention by the western media is the new development. We hope they will come up with an investigative report on the Hawozen bloodshed. The air raid was prompted by the same evil party –TPLF. This was revealed by two fighters Gebremedihn Araya and Abreha Yayeh. The international community needs to say ENOUGH ISENOUGH! to TPLF rule.
    It is sad that the western media turned blind eye and deaf ear to the plight of the Ethiopian people under the dictatorial Tigray Liberation Front – TPLF rule that the atrocities committed in Ethiopia could not be brought to the attention of the international community.

    complain about this comment

  • 207. At 3:41pm on 13 Mar 2010, sol wrote:

    Thank you BBC,specially to Martin Plaut for bringing this important story to the audience across the world .Ethiopia has plenty of untold human tragic stories,we hope this may be the beging of many more investigative reporting for days, year to come in shining light on this and many more horrable burtality the Ethiopian people have be enduring for the past 20 years in the hands of this narrow minded minority regime called TPLF. Thank you!

    complain about this comment

  • 208. At 6:27pm on 13 Mar 2010, Muche wrote:

    The issue of AID corruption is more widespread today than it was 25 years ago. The British government gives hundreds of millions of pounds a year to the corrupt regime of Ethiopia today. Yet the people of Ethiopia live in dire situation (the poverty for the common man and woman is worse than 25 years ago). I do not understand why the British taxpayers pay for the Oxford education of an Ethiopian tyrant’s daughter.
    I suggest BBC to look into the bank accounts of the current rulers of Ethiopia and if possible their relatives. I also suggest you look into this multi billion dollar business conglomerate known as EFFORT.

    complain about this comment

  • 209. At 00:35am on 14 Mar 2010, Aynabeba wrote:

    Shame…shame on Arena(Medirek), failed Diaspora politician

    The Arena(Medirek),failed conservative diaspora politician. they still believe western countries are the one that will bring them to power. They don’t give attention for the people who are living home.They regularly forget that we are the one to decide on our future leader through ballot. They are busy here in this blog on crying to convince the western country with fictitious history which couldn’t relevant for our present conditions,rather than bringing alternative policy and strategy that will allow us to vote for them. Shamefully, they are denying all the developmental progress our country is achieving nowadays.

    They still believe western money is the only thing that will avoid poverty in Ethiopia. They defies to accept the work done by each individual farmer that removed death trough famine.This all is really the usual damn part of our country opposition party strategy that didn’t and will not allow them to get enough vote from our people. without take lesson from previous election, they still give the power to Western

    We shall see in the future whether Andrew Whitehead or Mr Martin Plaut can vote for them and give the power to them. Therefore,I want to advice as rational citizen ‘Arena(Medirek),failed conservative diaspora poletician give value for us and bringing your issue internal and discuss with us. Don’t underestimate us because we are the only one voting for our leader.WE….We…. We ……Ethiopian are the only people that can decide on our internal cases, not westerns.’

    complain about this comment

  • 210. At 12:10pm on 14 Mar 2010, martyjg wrote:

    Bob is understandably angry of the accusation, but he must accept that whatever plans he makes,he can not oversee everything! It is rather naive to think otherwise! To shoot(sic) the messenger is feeble! I also think it naive to think ‘anyone’ can solve the African problem. Here we have ‘natural selection’ at work and there is nothing that man can do about it! Must I spell it out? The African climate is changing, it is immaterial to think it natural or man made! The fact remains, the land they inhabit is not sustainable! Move or die, blunt ,yes, accept the inevitable!