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Ethiopians’ Pockets Hit by War and Covid

Ethiopia’s 10-month war has come at a huge human cost, with thousands killed, millions displaced and many in desperate need of assistance. But that’s not the only damage being done to Africa’s second most populous nation – the war has incurred a huge economic cost, too, that could take years to repair. In the capital Addis Ababa, citizens say their monthly expenses have doubled for two reasons: the war that broke out in the northern region of Tigray in November and the coronavirus pandemic. Official statistics show the cost of basic consumer goods has indeed gone up in Ethiopia – they were on average around a quarter more expensive in July than a year earlier. It is not clear how much the war has cost but Trading Economics forecasts military expenditure will reach $502m by the end of the year, up from $460m last year. Last week, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres said the conflict had “drained over a billion dollars from the country’s coffers”. Prior to the global pandemic and the war, Ethiopia’s economy was one of the fastest-growing in the region, expanding by an average of 10% a year in the decade to 2019, according to the World Bank.