Friday, January 27, 2023

Burkina Faso expels top UN official

DAKAR, Senegal ( Associated Press) – Burkina Faso’s government on Friday expelled the country’s top United Nations official with immediate effect, officials said.

The United Nations humanitarian coordinator in the West African country, Barbara Manzi, has been declared persona non grata, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Burkina Faso has been rocked by violence linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State extremist group, which has killed thousands and displaced nearly 2 million, creating a humanitarian crisis. A lack of confidence in the government’s ability to contain the violence has led to two military coups this year.

Although the statement gave no reason for the expulsions, Foreign Minister Olivia Roumba said on state television on Friday that Manzi had warned about insecurity in the capital Ouagadougou without providing evidence.

“He claimed he had information from reliable sources without agreeing to provide any evidence,” said Ruamba. He also said that Manji told him he was in contact with “terrorist leaders” and questioned how Manji was able to easily reach Jibo, a besieged city in the Sahel region, while the country’s security forces could not.

Manzi, who is Italian, was appointed UN Resident Coordinator in August last year, often traveling to the hardest-hit parts of the country to try to raise awareness of the worsening humanitarian crisis. He has extensive experience with the United Nations, having served as head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Ukraine, Iraq, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Prior to Burkina Faso, she was the Resident Coordinator in Djibouti.

The UN did not immediately comment on the decision. Diplomats in Burkina Faso said they were taken by surprise, according to a Western official who was not authorized to speak to the media.

Nation World News Desk
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