The UN workers were meddling in Ethiopian internal affairs, according to the gov’t. The UN secretary general said his office is engaging Ethiopia after the news was heard. The White House denounced it.
Ethiopia on Thursday announced that it has declared seven individuals working for United Nations agencies operating in the country a “persona non grata.” The individuals are required to leave the country within the next 72 hours. .
Based on a brief statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia issued on Thursday, the decision seems to be a move in the direction of defending the sovereignty of Ethiopia.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, in letters issued today (30 September 2021), has declared a ”persona non grata” for seven individuals who are working for UN humanitarian agencies in Ethiopia for meddling in the internal affairs of the country,” said the statement from the country.
UNICEF representative in Ethiopia, Mr. Adele Khodr, is among those who must leave Ethiopia within 72 hours. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has disclosed the names of the individuals required to leave the country. They are :
1. Mr. Adele Khodr, UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia
2. Mr. Sonny Onyegbula, Monitoring, Reporting and Advocacy Team Leader : United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights
3. Mr. Kwesi Sansculotte, Peace and Development Advisor: UNOCHA
4. Mr. Saeed Mohamoud Hersi: Deputy Head of Office: Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Ethiopia
5. Mr. Grant Leaity, Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator: Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Ethiopia
6. Ms. Ghada Eltahir Mudawi: Acting Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator: Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Ethiopia
7. Mrs. Marcy Vigoda, Head of office: Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Ethiopia
Office of the Spokesperson
The United Nations called Ethiopia’s decision “shocking.” Mr. Antonio Guterres said “I was shocked by the information that the Government of Ethiopia has declared seven UN officials, including senior UN humanitarian officials, as persona non grata.” (https://www.un.org/sg/en/node/259817)
The UN seems to be engaging the Ethiopian government with the hope that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government will change the decision.
MR António Guterres said, “We are now engaging with the Government of Ethiopia in the expectation that the concerned UN staff will be allowed to continue their important work.”
For many Ethiopians, Ethiopia’s action is rather late in view of credible allegations that the United Nations, and other state funded aid agencies in the country, were involved in facilitating different forms of support for the Tigray rebels.
Many Ethiopians who are active on social media seem to be rather shocked that the “UN is shocked” by the Ethiopian government decision.
Bisrat Lemessa Kabeta replied to the UN Secretary General spokesperson saying, “You’re still pointing fingers at #Ethiopia while blindly defending your staffers. Is this how multilateralism works? Instead of, at least gesturally, hinting on investigating the accusations, you arrogantly dismissed them. Then you’re demanding the Govt to reverse its decision!…”
Dr. Ir. Middle Lander, apparently using the Twitter platform anonymously, reacted to the news “Shocked ??? I thought they would say expected (knowing how they treated Ethiopia).”
Ethiopia’s decision came at a time when the country is facing increasing pressure from the UN in connection with aid delivery to the Tigray region of Ethiopia.
This week, the UN aid chief remarked about the situation in Ethiopia in a way that seems to implicate the Ethiopian government.
The United Nations branch office in Ethiopia admitted earlier this month that only 38 of the 466 trucks that entered the Tigray region of Ethiopia since July 12 returned. It means the remaining trucks are under the control of the Tigray rebels, Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – but the UN has not officially condemned it.
Apart from the UN, the U.S. government has reacted to Ethiopia’s decision. The White House said, “The U.S. Government condemns in the strongest possible terms the Government of Ethiopia’s unprecedented action to expel the leadership of all of the United Nations organizations involved in ongoing humanitarian operations,” as tweeted by the US Embassy in Addis Ababa.
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