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EU halts aid to Ethiopia over Tigray conflict

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Financial aid

The European Union has postponed almost 90 million euros in budget support payments to Ethiopia over the bloc's concerns of the Tigray crisis, according to an EU document seen by various media organisations.

The move highlights the EU’s wish for a cessation of hostilities and its concerns about restrictions on humanitarian and media access to the northern region, the document said.

The five-week war has killed thousands, and displaced 950,000, according to UN estimates, about 50,000 of them have fled to Sudan.

The conflict started on November 4 after Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced a military attack targeting Tigray’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

He said the move came in response to TPLF-orchestrated attacks on federal army camps in the region.

Abiy declared victory after federal troops took the regional capital Mekele in late November, saying hostilities were “completed.”

But the UN has since reported fighting in multiple parts of the region.

The conflict marks a policy dilemma for western governments who see Ethiopia as an ally in the fight against Islamic extremism in neighbouring Sudan.

The EU is also concerned over reports that civilians were targeted by government forces and the Tigray People's Liberation Front.

The postponed EU funding totals 88.5 million euros ($107.6 million) and includes 60 million euros for a program supporting transport and logistics links with Ethiopia’s neighbors and 17.5 million euros for the health sector.