Yes, we've had a number of discussions recently with the World Bank, because our research, in Gambella in particular, on the forced resettlement of communities is linked to the provision of basic services program. Officials from that program are implementing this policy of resettlement, and the World Bank, of course, has quite strong guidelines on involuntary resettlement and human rights abuses affecting indigenous communities and so on.
As far as we know, the World Bank and several other donors were involved in site visits to Gambella and to Benishangul, where similar villagization processes have been taking place. We have not seen the reports of those assessments. Those have not been made public or shared with us.
We do have concerns about some of the methodology of those assessments. If I may, I'll just take one second to give you a little anecdote. Our researcher who conducted the research in Gambella interviewed over a hundred people over four weeks across 14 different villages, seeing villages on site and going in and having confidential one-on-one interviews, in secure conditions, with victims and witnesses of these abuses.
When he went one day with a regional official to one village and spoke to a man about whether the resettlement was voluntary, the man said, “Yes, everything's fine, no problem”. When he went back two days later with a community activist, whom the man knew and trusted, he got a totally different story about the fact that they were being forced to move, that there was violence, and that threats and detentions were being used by local officials.
I mention this because if you have diplomatic or donor representatives from Addis turning up with government officials in these communities, you're not going to get the real story, which again points to my concerns about how these programs are being monitored and what more donors should be doing to really make sure they're getting the full story.