Ethiopia expels UN personnel and hinders aid

1 October 2021

The Ethiopian authorities expelled seven UN members staff, putting the aid operations in the country at risk

UN News reports that last week seven members of the United Nations staff - five workers of the Office for the Coordination of the Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), one representative from UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and one team leader of the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR)- were expelled from the country, after having been declared by the authorities personae non grata. As a reaction, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed all his shock and concern for this decision, emphasizing how all the UN-led operations are inspired by the core principles of independence, impartiality, neutrality and humanity.

Echoing Guterres’ statement, Jens Laerke, the OCHA spokesperson, stressed the importance to change or review the Ethiopian authorities’ decision because, given the dire humanitarian crisis plaguing the country, the aid operations cannot be undermined. Indeed, as UN News continues to report, approximately 5.2 million people are in need of assistance in the Tigray region, with the ongoing conflict which exacerbates the displacement crisis. Moreover, the hostilities have caused an exponential increase of the number of people living on the brink of famine, with a rise from five to 21 per cent of the population being deprived of the access to indispensable objects of survival. 

Against this appalling backdrop, it is absolutely pivotal to carry on humanitarian operations seamlessly. Such a decision of the Ethiopian authorities collides with this priority, as it hinders the UN personnel’s tireless and priceless work. As promptly underlined by Rupert Colville, the Spokesperson of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Ethiopian authorities failed to flesh out the clear and precise reasons leading to the sanction. Subsequently, he urged them to make up for this lack of information and to provide for further details in order to shed light on what actually occurred.  


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