Today, Friday, the United Nations denounced Ethiopia’s announcement of the expulsion of 7 senior officials of the international organization, and expressed its concern about the humanitarian situation of 5.2 million people in the Tigray region, while Ethiopia accused the UN staff of participating in activities that harm its interests.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his shock at Ethiopia’s declaration that 7 United Nations officials in the country are persona non grata.
His spokesman, Stephen Tremblay, confirmed that the international organization was engaged in talks with Addis Ababa, in order to allow its employees to remain in the country and continue their work.
“It is very important that humanitarian operations continue… so far there is no indication that (Ethiopia’s decision) is halting the operation,” Jens Laerke, spokesman for the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs, told a news briefing in Geneva.
And the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said yesterday, Thursday, that it was decided to expel 7 UN officials from the country, two days after the international aid official said that hundreds of thousands of people may be suffering from starvation in the northern region of Tigray, due to the government’s denial of aid.
The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said that the seven officials interfered in the country’s internal affairs, and “they must leave the territory of Ethiopia within the next 72 hours.”
The ministry listed the names of 7 officials of United Nations agencies, including the United Nations Children’s Fund “UNICEF” and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington will impose sanctions on parties related to the conflict in Ethiopia, unless there are clear and tangible changes.
Psaki added that her country made it clear to these parties the need to take steps within weeks, to start a dialogue between them, a ceasefire and allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.
On the other hand, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken condemned the Ethiopian government’s announcement of the expulsion of UN officials, and called on it to reverse this decision immediately.
Blinken said the expulsion of these officials is counterproductive to international efforts to keep civilians safe.
He added that his country will not hesitate to use sanctions or other tools to respond to those who obstruct the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Ethiopian people.
In turn, the European Union’s foreign policy coordinator, Josep Borrell, said he agreed with the Secretary-General of the United Nations that the Ethiopian government’s expulsion of 7 United Nations staff is unacceptable.
Borrell added – in a tweet on Twitter – that providing aid to the needy in Tigray region, and saving lives, is the primary responsibility of the Ethiopian government.
In the capital, Ethiopia, Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti said that the measures taken by the government regarding the seven workers in international organizations, as “undesirable persons”, are caused by their interference in the country’s internal affairs, and this will be a lesson and a lesson for others.
He explained that these individuals received orders to leave the country because they participated in activities harmful to the interests of Ethiopia, adding that any international organization or individual working without the permission of the government in activities without a license, this action is considered illegal.
Mufti stressed that all activities that undermine the sovereignty, security and peace of any country are prohibited, not only in Ethiopia, but in all countries.
On the humanitarian side, the United Nations warned – in a report – of what it described as unprecedented malnutrition among pregnant and lactating women in the Ethiopian region of Tigray.
The United Nations expressed concern about the increase in child malnutrition, in addition to starvation, nearly 11 months after the outbreak of the conflict.
The report stated that more than 12,000 women were diagnosed with acute malnutrition, out of 15,000 examined.
He explained that the level of moderate malnutrition among children under the age of five exceeds the global emergency threshold of 15%, while the proportion of children suffering from severe malnutrition is 2.4%, which is higher than the alarming level set at 2%.