Ethiopia expels 7 UN aid officials for “meddling in internal affairs”

On September 30, Ethiopia decided to expel seven United Nations officials, including senior UN humanitarian officials. Few days earlier, the UN aid chief asked the government to stop blocking trucks from delivering aid to the Tigray region.

On September, the ministry of foreign affairs of Ethiopia said it sent notifications to seven United Nation officials to leave the country within 72 hours. They are accused of “meddling in the internal affairs of the country“.

One of them is the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative in Ethiopia. Six of them are from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The UN Secretary General stated he was shocked by the “information that the Government of Ethiopia has declared seven UN officials, including senior UN humanitarian officials, as persona non grata“.

The OCHA regularly updates on the situation in the Tigray region, either from weekly Northern Ethiopia Humanitarian Update Situation Reports or in Daily Noon Briefing Highlights.

On September 2, the United Nations declared the aid crisis in the area was worsening, with stocks of relief aid, cash and fuel “running very low or depleted“.

For the UN, trucks delivering humanitarian aid are denied access to the state Tigray

OCHA repeatedly warned that not enough aid was able to reach the population. Since July 12, only about 7 trucks a day got to deliver humanitarian supplies while 100 trucks are needed daily. The organization considers there is a denial of access of the only road access route into Tigray for fuel and medical supplies.

And on September 28, the United Nations aid chief told Reuters his request to the government of Ethiopia was to “get those trucks moving.[…] This is man-made, this can be remedied by the act of government.

Moreover, most trucks sent to the Tigray region don’t come back.

In August, a transcript of the prime minister’s press briefing highlights that “images showing international humanitarian aid agency food items in the hands of terrorists” that have surfaced.

The government of Ethiopia considers the Tigray People’s Liberation Front as terrorists. The TPLF contested reforms conducted by the government and the feud became an armed conflict since November 2020. According to the UN, some 1.7 million people face food insecurity in the region.

The United Kingdom, the European Union and Germany condemned the expulsion; The United States said it would not hesitate to use targeted economic sanctions.

On October 1, the UN Security Council discusses the situation in Tigray at the demand of Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States, according to the Security Council report.

Read more about Ethiopia

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, September 2021, Free accessSecretary-General's statement on Ethiopia, United Nations, September 2021, Free accessEthiopia - Northern Ethiopia Humanitarian Update Situation Report, Free accessTigray aid situation worsening by the day, warn UN humanitarians, United Nations, September 2021, Free accessU.N. aid chief to Ethiopia on famine in Tigray: 'Get those trucks moving', United Nations, September 2021, Free accessPress Briefing Transcript, Office of the Prime Minister, August 2021, Free accessCondemning Ethiopia’s Plans to Expel UN Officials, U.S. Department of State, September 2021, Free accessSecurity Council Report, Twitter, October 2021, Free access

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