Commenting on the expulsion of seven UN diplomats by Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement today, Friday, that some of the staff of the international organization did not perform their duties independently and impartially, forcing the government to ask some officials of the organization’s agencies to leave the country.
The statement, which it posted on its Facebook page, added that the violations committed by some UN employees included diverting humanitarian aid to the Tigray Liberation Front and violating the agreed security arrangements.
The Foreign Ministry also indicated that some UN employees transferred communication equipment for use by the Tigray Liberation Front, accusing them of spreading “misinformation and politicizing humanitarian aid.”
The United Nations is angry
For his part, a United Nations spokesman revealed that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed today, Friday, that the international organization does not accept Ethiopia’s decision to expel seven officials of the organization by declaring them persona non grata.
Deputy spokesperson for the United Nations, Farhan Haq, said that a diplomatic note had been sent to the Ethiopian mission to the United Nations and conveyed its content to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, which stated that the “long-standing legal position” of the United Nations regarding declaring someone “persona non grata” — or unwelcome — does not apply to United Nations personnel.
He also added that the principle of declaring “persona non grata” applies between countries, and “we are not a country.”
The United States had condemned Ethiopia’s decision, and White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki warned that Washington would not hesitate to resort to sanctions against those who obstruct humanitarian efforts in the country, according to Reuters.
A picture of one of the armed men in Tigray
“This is a stain on our collective conscience and this must be stopped,” Psaki told reporters Thursday, urging the United Nations Security Council and other countries to take urgent action to inform the Ethiopian government that it is unacceptable to obstruct humanitarian operations.
It is noteworthy that Ethiopia announced the expulsion of United Nations officials yesterday, Thursday, two days after the international humanitarian coordinator, Martin Griffiths, warned that the “de facto” denial of aid entry was likely to expose hundreds of thousands of people in the Ethiopian region of Tigray to starvation.