Ethiopia ordered the expulsion of seven senior United Nations (UN) officials on Sept. 30, giving them 72 hours to leave the country.
The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry declared “persona non grata” to seven UN officials for “meddling in the internal affairs of the country” amid a humanitarian crisis in the northern regions of Tigray, Amhara, and Afar.
The seven UN officials include five members of the UN humanitarian affairs office, the UN Children’s Fund Representative, and a team leader from the UN human rights office.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement that he was “shocked” by the expulsion.
“All UN humanitarian operations are guided by the core principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and independence… I have full confidence in the UN staff who are in Ethiopia doing this work,” Guterres said.
Guterres also said that the UN is engaging with the Ethiopian government “in the expectation that the concerned UN staff will be allowed to continue their important work.”
Earlier this week, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths said that the humanitarian crisis in Tigray was escalating after 11 months of conflict and three months of the government’s “de facto” blockade that has prevented humanitarian aid from reaching some 5.2 million people.
The conflict began last November when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the 2019 Nobel Peace Price winner, deployed military troops against regional ruling party Tigray People’s Liberation Front, whom he accused of attacking army camps.
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