Ethiopia Expels U.N. for ‘Meddling’ in Country’s Internal Affairs

In this Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 file photo, Ethiopia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Demeke Mekonnen Hassen addresses the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters. Ethiopia's foreign ministry said in a statement Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021 that it is kicking out seven …
Kena Betancur/Pool Photo via AP

Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry declared seven United Nations (U.N.) officials “persona non grata” on Thursday and gave them 72 hours to leave the country for allegedly “meddling” in the nation’s “internal affairs.”

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia declared ‘persona non grata’ for seven individuals who have been working for some #UN humanitarian agencies in #Ethiopia for meddling in the internal affairs of the country,” the bureau said in a Twitter statement issued September 30. “They must leave the country within the next 72 hrs.”

Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry issued a separate press release on October 1 explaining its decision to expel the U.N. officials.

“In connection to the current situation in the Northern part of Ethiopia, we had sadly observed that some UN staff have failed to fulfill their mission independently and impartially,” the statement read.

The ministry said it had attempted to resolve the issue by bringing it to the “attention of the relevant UN high officials.” These supervisors failed to curtail the “grave violations” which “persisted,” according to the department.

“As such, as a measure of last resort, the Government of Ethiopia had to ask some officials of UN agencies to leave the country,” the ministry said.

The statement went on to detail five major conduct “breaches” allegedly committed by the expelled U.N. officials. The ministry listed the alleged violations as follows:

1. Diversion of humanitarian assistance to the TPLF;
2. Violating agreed-upon security arrangements;
3. Transferring communication equipment to be used by the TPLF;
4. Continued reticence in demanding the return of more than 400 trucks commandeered by the TPLF for military mobilization and for the transportation of its forces since July 2021; and
5. Dissemination of misinformation and politicization of humanitarian assistance

Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said these alleged actions by the U.N. ultimately “undermine the sovereignty of Ethiopia and pose a threat to its national security interests.”

The TPLF, or Tigray People’s Liberation Front, is a Marxist separatist group based out of northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region. Ethiopia’s federal government launched a military offensive against the TPLF in November 2020 after forces allied to the militant group attacked federal military bases across Tigray. The uprising sparked an ongoing civil war between Addis Ababa, the seat of Ethiopia’s national government, and the separatist TPLF. The majority of fighting has taken place within Tigray.

An estimated 300,000 Ethiopians have been displaced by the conflict over the past several months, causing a massive humanitarian crisis. Most refugees have headed to other regions of Ethiopia. At least 60,000 Ethiopians have chosen to leave the country altogether in favor of neighboring states, such as Sudan. Eritrean troops allied with Addis Ababa have deployed to Tigray to assist the Ethiopian federal military’s efforts in the ongoing conflict.

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