Ethiopia spreads allegations about UN personnel, UN wants documents

Cameroon – Days after expelling seven UN officials, Ethiopia on Wednesday inflated the scale of the humanitarian crisis, accusing them of failing to provide evidence of their involvement in the war in the Tigray region, and the secretary UN General Antonio Guterres. Pressed the state ambassador to document the allegations.

The unexpected exchange took place during a Security Council meeting called to discuss the expulsion of officials, as the United Nations sees it as an extension of the humanitarian catastrophe in the Horn of Africa. For some council members, the expulsion of officials, most of whom are from UN humanitarian agencies, will complicate already difficult aid efforts.

Ethiopian Ambassador Taye Atske Selassie has issued a further detailed statement on those responsible. He increased the number of poor by a million, supported the Tigrinya army fighting the government, invented 12 deaths in IDP camps, and moved Ethiopia from Saudi Arabia to another African country. Immigrants “preparing to fight the Tigrinyas, among other training and accusations”.

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“Ethiopia deeply resents this experience,” the ambassador said, adding that the government wrote to the United Nations about the actions of its staff in July.

Surprised, Guterres replied that he knew nothing about the allegations and twice asked Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to send details of his concerns about the impartiality of UN staff.

Guterres, who backs Ethiopia, did not have the right to expel officials under the Charter of the United Nations, but took a rare step for the secretary-general by responding directly to advice. He asked the ambassador to provide documents the government may have on allegations of misconduct by one of the seven officials.

“It is my duty to protect the honor of the United Nations,” Guterres later told reporters. He said if such a document was provided, the United Nations would investigate why he had not been notified of the matter.

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Ethiopia announced its expulsion last Thursday, accusing UN officials of interfering with national operations.

The country’s foreign ministry then made more specific allegations of “serious violations” such as violations of security agreements, the transfer of communications equipment used by the Tigray army, the dissemination of false information and the ” politicization of humanitarian aid ”. Added.

But much of what the ambassador said on Wednesday had yet to be publicly discussed.

The expulsion came as the United Nations spoke increasingly candidly about what was called the Ethiopian government’s de facto blockade in the Tigray region, where local troops have been fighting government soldiers and allied forces since November. .

The conflict began as a political dispute after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed abstained from the local Tigrinya party, which had led the Ethiopian government for decades. The clash turned into a war that killed thousands of people and an even more threatening hunger crisis.

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In and around Tigray, where fighting is rife, up to 7 million people are in need of food and other aid, and around 400,000 people are living in “situations bordering on famine,” Guterres said. ..

“The Ethiopian people are suffering. We have no other interest in helping to stop the suffering, ”he said.

United Nations humanitarian director Martin Griffiths told The Associated Press last week that only 10% of needed humanitarian supplies have arrived in Tigray in recent weeks.

Five staff members were banned from cooperation with the United Nations Humanitarian Aid Agency, the other with the United Nations Human Rights Agency and the seventh with UNICEF, the United Nations Fund United for Children.

After the urgent private talks on Friday, the council took no action and the split took place in a meeting on Wednesday.

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The United States and some European member states lamented the expulsion before the Ethiopian ambassador made the new demand.

“There is no excuse or neglect,” Irish Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason said.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield called the expulsion reckless and unjustified and an insult to the United Nations, its member states and humanitarian principles.

Asked later about the Ethiopian envoy’s accusation, she said the United States wanted to see the allegations and “where they came from,” but “some” of them emerged after the authorities were expelled. Raise concerns. ”

Thomas Greenfield urged the Council to consider adopting a resolution allowing the United Nations to provide humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia.

“If these requests for humanitarian access remain inaudible, the Security Council must act,” she said.

However, representatives from China and Tunisia, the latter speaking with three African members of the council on behalf of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, called for “quiet diplomacy.”

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India’s ambassador to TS Tirmulti wants to “make the situation worse through involvement and dialogue,” and Russia’s deputy ambassador to Anna Eftigniva said the council “has made progress” on what it needs. considers to be the internal affairs of Ethiopia. We must not exaggerate too much. ”

The Ethiopian ambassador called on the United Nations to send new personnel in place of those who have been forced to expel, and said his country is keen to cooperate with the international community.

“You shouldn’t doubt the tradition of Ethiopian hospitality,” he said. “We want respect, dignity and integrity.”

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