2021-10-07 09:20:52 UN chief demands proof from Ethiopia after staff expulsion | United Nations News
UN chief demands proof from Ethiopia after staff expulsion | United Nations News
After seven UN employees were expelled for misconduct allegations, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres demanded evidence from Ethiopia.
“It is my duty to defend the honor of the United Nations,” Guterres told reporters after a rare public exchange with Ambassador Taye Atske Selassie Amde about the situation in the country at the end of a Security Council meeting on Wednesday.
The Ethiopian government expelled seven senior United Nations officials, the majority of whom worked for the world body’s humanitarian agency, last week for “interfering” in internal affairs. At the 15-member council, Selassie went on to accuse the UN staff of taking sides in the war in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region and exaggerating the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis.
He accused the officials of fabricating data, falsely claiming that hunger was used as a weapon of war and that people died as a result of hunger, and also of supporting Tigrayan forces fighting the government.
“To use their own words,” Selassie said, “they were looking to create a Darfur-like situation.” “They created one million victims of a health disaster suddenly and overnight,” he added.
“Ethiopia deeply resents this experience,” the ambassador continued, noting that the government had written to the UN in July about staff behavior.
Guterres then took the unusual step of requesting the ability to respond. In his response to the council, the UN Secretary-General stated that he had not received any information from Ethiopia regarding these claims and demanded documents proving the new allegations.
“We believe Ethiopia is breaking international law,” Guterres said. “And we are ready to cooperate with the Ethiopian government in any situation in which the Ethiopian government believes that any member of the UN is not acting in total impartiality, total independence, as humanitarian law requires.”
Guterres also stated that he told Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed twice that if there were any concerns about the impartiality of UN personnel, the government should share the information so that the UN could conduct an investigation.
“I asked… the prime minister twice.” “I had no response to these requests until now,” Guterres said. “The Ethiopian people are in pain. We have no other goal than to alleviate that suffering.”
The US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, called Ethiopia’s decision to expel UN officials “reckless,” adding, “There is no justification for the government of Ethiopia’s action, none at all.”
“The United Nations is unbiased.” “The United Nations is neutral,” she told the council. “UN personnel barred from returning to Ethiopia must be allowed to do so immediately.”
Ethiopia’s federal troops went to war with forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which controls Tigray, 11 months ago. Thousands of people have died, millions have fled their homes, and the conflict has spread into the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions.
Guterres stated earlier in the Council that up to seven million people in Tigray, Amhara, and Afar require assistance, including five million in Tigray, where an estimated 400,000 people are living in famine-like conditions.
“Our colleagues on the ground are sharing increasingly alarming witness testimony of the suffering – including increasing accounts of hunger-related deaths,” Guterres said, calling the humanitarian crisis “immense.”
“We are seeing acute malnutrition rates that remind us of the start of the 2011 Somalia famine in locations where screening has been possible,” he said.
He urged the government to allow “unhindered” delivery of aid and the “unrestricted movement of desperately needed fuel, cash, communications equipment, and humanitarian supplies” into Tigray, Amhara, and Afar.
“Children in Ethiopia are starving.” People are dying as a result of a lack of access to food, water, and basic health care. This is not a natural disaster-caused situation. “Those who continue to choose the path of war are to blame,” Ireland’s UN Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason told the council.
According to Al Jazeera’s James Bays, reporting from the United Nations headquarters in New York, Guterres “made it clear he believes a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Ethiopia, and urgent international action is required.” The Security Council, on the other hand, remains divided.”
Permanent members Russia and China have stated unequivocally that the Tigray conflict is an internal Ethiopian matter, making strong Council action – such as sanctions – unlikely.
On Wednesday, China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun called for “quiet diplomacy” to avoid a “deadlock” over the expulsion of UN officials.
Due to opposition from China and Russia, the Security Council was unable to agree on a statement proposed by Ireland on Friday.