30 September (WNN) — Ethiopia has ordered the expulsion of seven senior UN officials on charges of “interfering in the country’s internal affairs”, following criticism from the foreign ministry that the country has instituted a humanitarian blockade on the troubled Tigre region.
The ministry sent letters to officials from the United Nations Children’s Fund and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, informing her that she had been designated a “persona non greta” and had 72 hours to leave the country.
Those expelled include Grant Leighty, the acting humanitarian coordinator for Ethiopia with the OCHA, who warned earlier this month that the war-torn Tigre region was under “a real humanitarian aid blockade”.
The Tigre, in northeastern Ethiopia, is at the center of fighting between Ethiopian and Eritrean forces and the ethnic nationalist Tigre People’s Liberation Front, which erupted in November.
The United Nations has repeatedly stated that more than 5.2 million people across the state, which is equivalent to 90% of the Tigre population, are in urgent need of humanitarian aid, with 400,000 currently facing famine conditions. And more than 100,000 children suffer from life-threatening acute. Malnutrition in the next 12 months
In his letter dated September 2, Leighty said that there is only one route into the Tigre that human partners can use, but that long delays and evacuations “make the route extremely difficult.”
“Stocks of relief aid, cash and fuel are running low or are completely exhausted. The food stock was already exhausted on August 20. At least 100 trucks of food, non-food items and fuel every The day should enter Tigre so as to maintain an adequate response,” he said, adding that between July 12 and September 2, only 355 trucks had entered the area.
In the past three weeks, 171 trucks have entered the Tigre, carrying a combined 6,150 metric tons of food for 360,000 people a month, WFP said via Twitter.
“It is vital that we have a free flow of aid to reach the needs of all in northern Ethiopia,” it said.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement on Thursday that he was “shocked” that Ethiopia has designated its officials as personalityless because they are providing life-saving aid to those in need in the country.
“I have full confidence in the UN staff who are in Ethiopia during this week,” he said. “We are now engaging with the government of Ethiopia in the hope that the UN staff concerned will be allowed to continue their important work.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also issued a statement condemning the expulsion, calling on Ethiopia to immediately revise its decision or face the consequences.
“The evictions go against international efforts to keep civilians safe and provide life-saving humanitarian aid to millions of those in need,” he said.
On September 17, President Joe Biden signed an executive order allowing sanctions against leaders in Ethiopia over the fighting in the Tigre.
“We will not hesitate to use this authorization or other means to respond to those hindering humanitarian aid to the people of Ethiopia,” he said.