More than a dozen agencies working in a variety of humanitarian and development fields either do not respond to interview requests or declined to speak, most citing concerns about the potential risk to staff operating in Ethiopia

By Andrew Green (Devex)|

The Ethiopian government’s recently imposed state of emergency, which followed months of clashes between political protesters and security forces, has imposed new curfews, limited the movement of civilians and diplomats and outlawed opposition media.

It has also largely silenced the extensive international aid community operating in the country from speaking about what effect the current political dynamic is having on their work.

The quiet itself is telling of the fear NGOs and agencies are operating under. More than a dozen agencies working in a variety of humanitarian and development fields — including the United Nations’ resident humanitarian coordinator — either did not respond to interview requests or declined to speak to Devex for this story, most citing concerns about the potential risk to staff operating in Ethiopia.

ALSO READ Legal Analysis of Ethiopia’s State of Emergency (Human Rights Watch)

Meanwhile, some development projects have been slowed by the government’s reaction to the protests, according to NGO officials. Security forces have fired tear gas and bullets into crowds and temporarily shut down some channels of communication. Transportation restrictions threaten to wreak havoc with the ongoing efforts to address food shortages following monthslong droughts. If violence broadens, it could precipitate a larger humanitarian crisis.

International officials — including from U.N. agencies — appear reluctant to speak candidly on the situation for fear it could cost them access to the communities they are trying to assist or even result in their agencies being expelled from the country.

Continue reading this story on Devex
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