UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed that Ethiopia has no legal right to expel seven UN humanitarian officials.
According to UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, Guterres told Ethiopia’s leader in a phone call on Friday that the world body does not accept Ethiopia’s decision to expel senior UN officials.
Haq said the United Nations Office for Legal Affairs sent a note to the UN mission in Ethiopia on Friday in New York, explaining the UN’s “long legal position” on the need to declare someone “persona non greta”. The action does not apply to UN personnel.
Ethiopia announced the expulsion on Thursday, giving UN officials 72 hours to go.
Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said in a tweet that the seven were “interfering in the country’s internal affairs.”
The tweet came amid mounting pressure on the government over the deadly blockade of the Tigre region, where children are reportedly starving. Ethiopia’s government has accused humanitarian workers of supporting Tigre forces that have been fighting their troops and allied forces since November, a charge that aid workers denies.
Spokesman Haque said UN officials are still in the country. When asked by a reporter whether UN officials would leave Ethiopia by the end of 72 hours, Haque did not respond directly.
UN officials include the deputy head of the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs and a representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF.
UNICEF said on Friday that the Ethiopian government’s decision to expel UN officials from the country was “regrettable and worrying”.
Declaring their work “more urgent than ever”, UNICEF said in a statement that children are bearing the brunt of the country’s worsening humanitarian crisis.
UNICEF said, “We have full confidence in the teams working on the ground to save children’s lives, as always – guided by the principles of fairness, humanity, neutrality and independence. Our programs will continue.” African nation for over 60 years.
Ethiopia’s federal government has been engaged in an armed conflict with the military in the northern Tigre region for almost a year. The government declared a unilateral ceasefire and withdrew its forces in June, but the conflict continued to spread to the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar.
Of the 6 million people living in the Tigre, the United Nations says 5.2 million are in need of some level of food aid. More than 400,000 people are living in famine-like conditions, and another 1.8 million are on the verge of famine.
“It is critically important that the humanitarian operation continues, and it does,” OCHA spokesman Jens Larke told Reuters at Friday’s Geneva briefing. “So far there is no indication that [Ethiopia’s decision] Stops the operation.”
UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said at the briefing that the removal of the head of its reporting team was “a really serious step”.
On Wednesday, UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said that after 11 months of conflict and three months of de facto government blockade, the humanitarian crisis in Tigre is spiraling out of control.
A UN spokeswoman said the region needed one hundred aid trucks a day, but only 79 were allowed in the past week.
“Trucks carrying fuel and medical supplies still cannot enter the Tigre,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Wednesday. “Trucks are waiting in Semera, in Afar, to travel to Mekel.”
The federal government, headed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, blames the rebels for blocking aid delivery.
condemnation of america
“The US government strongly condemns the unprecedented action by the Ethiopian government to expel the leadership of all UN organizations involved in ongoing humanitarian operations,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Thursday.
Earlier this month, US President Joe Biden signed an executive order allowing the government to impose financial sanctions on those prolonging the Tigre conflict.
“We will not hesitate to use this or any other tool at our disposal to provide a prompt and decisive response to those hindering humanitarian aid to the people of Ethiopia,” Saki said.
The UN Security Council on Friday held private talks about Ethiopia’s decision as well as North Korea’s recent missile launches.
Kenya’s ambassador to the United Nations, Martin Kimani, who took over as President of the Security Council for October, told reporters on Friday: “Many members expressed very serious concerns about both situations during Friday’s talks “, but said that neither of the two resolutions was passed. matter.
Diplomatic sources told Reuters news agency that any aggressive action by the council on Ethiopia’s actions was unlikely because China and Russia have long maintained the Tigrayan conflict is an internal matter.
VOA’s Patsi Vidakuswara contributed to this report. Some information in this report has been received from Reuters and Associated Press.