Ethiopia orders expulsion of top UN officials for “interference” | New
The Ethiopian government has ordered the expulsion from the country of seven senior United Nations officials for “interference” in its internal affairs.
The move came on Thursday as aid workers sounded the alarm bells over limited access to the besieged region of Tigray, which has been in conflict for nearly 11 months.
The seven officials, including people from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), were declared “persona non grata” and were granted 72 hours. to leave the country, according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry said Thursday.
.@mfaethiopia declared “persona non grata” for seven people who worked for some #UN humanitarian agencies in #Ethiopia for interfering in the internal affairs of the country. They must leave the country within the next 72 hours. September 30, 2021 pic.twitter.com/IDHv6AD145
– MFA Ethiopia🇪🇹 (@mfaethiopia) September 30, 2021
Grant Leaity, OCHA Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator, and Adele Khodr, UNICEF Ethiopia Representative, were among the expelled. OCHA’s Kwesi Sansculotte, Saeed Moahmoud Hersi, Ghada Eltahir Midawi and Marcy Vigoda were also ordered to leave, along with Sonny Onyegbula, from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “shocked” by the expulsion, UN spokeswoman Stéphanie Tremblay said during a press briefing.
“We are now engaging with the Ethiopian government in the hope that the relevant UN will be allowed to continue its important work,” Tremblay said.
Al Jazeera diplomatic correspondent James Bays, reporting from UN headquarters in New York, said the Ethiopian government’s decision had raised “great concern” at the UN.
He noted that Guterres had continued “a very calm and patient diplomacy… not to say too much, at least at the beginning in public, not to condemn it too much, because he thought he could give a nudge [Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed] in the right direction. “
“[But] this strategy clearly didn’t work, ”Bays said.
Separately, the United States said it would impose sanctions related to “the lack of significant progress in Ethiopia,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
In a statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States “strongly” condemned the decision and called for its “immediate reversal,” noting that the UN was critical to humanitarian relief efforts amid the growing risk famine.
“The expulsion runs counter to international efforts to ensure the safety of civilians and provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to millions of people in need,” Blinken said.
” It had to happen “
Fighting in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region has raged between federal forces and those aligned with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (TPLF) since November 2020. Thousands of people have died in the conflict marked by gang rapes, mass evictions and destruction of medical centers.
The findings of a joint investigation into the war led by the UN human rights office and the government-established Ethiopian Human Rights Commission – a rare setup that has raised concerns and reviews – are expected to be published on November 1. It was not immediately clear whether the investigation will be affected by the expulsion of Onyegbula, a member of the joint UN team.
On Tuesday, UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said a nearly three-month “de facto lockdown” has limited aid deliveries to 10% of what is needed in the region. some six million people.
Memories of the 1980s famine in Ethiopia, which killed an estimated one million people and whose images shocked the world, are vivid in his mind, “and we fervently hope that is not happening now,” said Griffiths.
Leaity, OCHA’s deputy humanitarian coordinator, warned this month that stocks of humanitarian aid, cash and fuel were “very low or were completely depleted” and that food stocks were depleted by the end of August. .
In turn, the Ethiopian authorities have accused anonymous aid workers in the country of favoring and even arming the Tigrayan forces, although they have provided no evidence to substantiate their claims. Previously, the government suspended the operations of two major international aid groups – Doctors Without Borders and the Norwegian Refugee Committee – accusing them of spreading “misinformation” about the war.
Samuel Getachew, a freelance journalist from the capital, Addis Ababa, said Thursday’s decision “has to happen,” noting that UN agencies and Ethiopian allegations have exchanged allegations on a number of issues.
“The Ethiopian side has declared that it is ready to help the UN [in] deliver[ing] aid … [while] the UN has accused the Ethiopian side of preventing them from providing aid… the allegations between them are in black and white, ”Getachew explained.
“So we expected that to come. This has been going on since day one, ”he added.
Meanwhile, TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda said on Twitter that the evictions reflected a “sad but real” situation in which Abiy could not be “advised to stay sane.”