- Ethiopian Parliament has today endorsed a bill imposing restrictions on humanitarian aid agencies working in the poverty and hunger stricken Horn of Africa state.
The bill which was approved by the House of representative after making some amendments, prohibits all aid agencies getting more than 10 percent of their funding abroad from addressing a number of areas including human rights, conflict resolution and children's rights.
A local news agency report said the draft proclamation clearly states the activities and duties of charities and civil society organisations while clearly mentioning the areas to which the organisations can engage in.
"The bill is issued to address problems related to charities and civil society organizations, whose operation is characterized by lack of accountability and transparency, among others," the agency reported.
Ethiopian is currently grappling with food shortages, and has millions in need of emergency food relief following severe floods that hit the country in 2007, destroying most of the food crops while successive droughts have also worsened the situation.
Opposition parties have criticised the adoption of the bill saying it was imposed by the ruling party to tighten its grip on power, and to eliminate those who would threaten to unseat its president.
However, government officials have insisted that the law was not devised to hamper the activities of non governmental organisations, but to safeguard the rights and interests of citizens.
"Civil organisations will be able to function without hindrances. They won't face restrictions as long as they respect the country's laws," a senior government was quoted in media reports.
The Horn of Africa country which is among the world's top aid recipients has a history of the world's worst drought that killed a million Ethiopians in October 1984.
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