Clash at UN Security Council. Secretary General takes on Ethiopia over expelled staff: “show me proof”

I cannot think of a previous occasion when a UN Secretary General told a member state – to its face – that he didn’t believe it.

Yet that’s effectively what Antonio Guterres did on Wednesday. He challenged Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to provide evidence of UN staff wrongdoing.

“It is my duty to defend the honor of the United Nations,” Guterres told reporters after the rare public exchange with Ethiopia’s U.N. ambassador, Taye Atske Selassie Amde, at the end of the council meeting on the situation in the country.

“Twice, I asked … the prime minister. Until now, I had no response to these requests,” Guterres said. “The people of Ethiopia are suffering. We have no other interest but to help stop that suffering.”

Full report below, with another report on the stand of the European Union and a third on the current humanitarian situation.

Martin


Source: Reuters

U.N. chief takes on Ethiopia over expelled staff: show me proof

Ethiopian porters unload food aid bound for victims of war after a checkpoint leading to Tigray in Mai Tsebri town, Ethiopia June 26, 2021. Picture taken June 26, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

Ethiopian porters unload food aid bound for victims of war after a checkpoint leading to Tigray in Mai Tsebri town, Ethiopia June 26, 2021. Picture taken June 26, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 6 (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hit back at Ethiopia on Wednesday over the government’s expulsion of seven U.N. staff, demanding proof of accusations against them raised by Ethiopia’s U.N. ambassador during a Security Council meeting.

“It is my duty to defend the honor of the United Nations,” Guterres told reporters after the rare public exchange with Ethiopia’s U.N. ambassador, Taye Atske Selassie Amde, at the end of the council meeting on the situation in the country.

The Ethiopian government last week expelled seven senior U.N. officials for meddling in internal affairs. Selassie expanded on that on Wednesday, accusing the U.N. staff of making up data, falsely claiming hunger was used as a weapon of war and that people had died from hunger, and of supporting government foe – the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

“To use their own words, they were looking to create a Darfur-like situation,” said Selassie. “They, suddenly and overnight, created one million victims of health disaster.”

Guterres responded in the council, saying he had not seen any information from Ethiopia about these claims. He said he told Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed twice that if there were any concerns about the impartiality of U.N. staff then Abiy should share the information so Guterres could investigate.

“Twice, I asked … the prime minister. Until now, I had no response to these requests,” Guterres said. “The people of Ethiopia are suffering. We have no other interest but to help stop that suffering.”

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield described the Ethiopian move to expel the U.N. officials as “reckless,” adding: “There’s no justification for the government of Ethiopia’s action, none at all.”

“The U.N. is impartial. The U.N. is neutral,” she told the 15-member council. “U.N. personnel barred from Ethiopia must be allowed to return immediately.”

‘CHILDREN ARE STARVING’

War broke out 11 months ago between Ethiopia’s federal troops and forces loyal to the TPLF, which controls Tigray. Thousands have died, millions have fled their homes and the conflict has spilled into neighboring Amhara and Afar.

Guterres said up to 7 million people in Tigray, Amhara and Afar need help, including 5 million in Tigray where some 400,000 people are estimated to be living in famine-like conditions.

“Our colleagues on the ground are sharing increasingly alarming eye-witness testimony of the suffering – including growing accounts of hunger-related deaths,” Guterres said earlier in the council meeting.

“In locations where screening has been possible, we are seeing acute malnutrition rates that remind us of the onset of the 2011 Somalia famine,” he said.

He called on the government to allow the urgent delivery of aid “without hindrance” and the “unrestricted movement of desperately needed fuel, cash, communications equipment and humanitarian supplies” into Tigray, Amhara and Afar.

“Ethiopian children are starving. People are dying because they cannot access food, water and basic health care. This is not a situation caused by natural disaster. It is caused by those who continue to choose the path of war,” Ireland’s U.N. Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason told the council.

Guterres urged the Security Council to back U.N. aid efforts. However, any strong action by the body – such as sanctions – is unlikely as Russia and China have made clear they believe the Tigray conflict is an internal affair for Ethiopia.

China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun on Wednesday called for “quiet diplomacy in order to prevent a deadlock” over the expulsion of the U.N. officials.


Source: Global News

EU Commissioner: Ethiopia’s Narrative ‘Dangerous’, Condemns Expulsion of UN Officials, Calls for Enhanced Collective Pressure

Globe News Net

The EU commissioner for international partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen condemned Ethiopia’s blockade on Tigray and the expulsion of 7 UN representatives who were mainly coordinating the humanitarian responses and engaged in the investigation into the atrocities in Tigray.

The commissioner in her speech at the European Parliament Plenary Debate on the Humanitarian Situation in Tigray On Tuesday, October 5, called on Europe for an ‘enhanced action and collective pressure for immediate and unhindered humanitarian access’.

Urpilainen said that the government of Ethiopia has sealed off Tigray making humanitarian aid delivery difficult while the needs are rising. The commissioner said that malnutrition in Tigray is raising and that to according to the commission’s estimates, closer to a million people in Tigray are now in famine condition.

In her speech, Urpilainen called Ethiopia’s governments narrative towards relief organizations “negative and dangerous”.

The commissioner concluded that Eu should press for respect of international humanitarian law are needed towards the Ethiopian authorities and all parties to the conflict for respect of international humanitarian law.


Beneath is the Full Textof the Commissioner’s Speech:

” It is since the beginning of the crisis last November that we have repeatedly raised our voice about the situation in Tigray.

The EU has been at the forefront of the diplomatic action and engaged with its Member States, likeminded-partners as well as Bretton-Wood Institutions to advocate for a concerted response. The EU has postponed budget support disbursements already last December.

Despite our and some other international actors’ efforts almost a year into the conflict, the situation does not improve. On the contrary, the tragic humanitarian crisis unfolding in Tigray is reaching dramatic levels and is increasingly posing considerable implications to the wider Horn of Africa.

Close to one year into the conflict, over 5 million people are in need of urgent assistance and 2.1 million people are displaced. The Famine Review Committee (FRC) predicted in June that there were 400,000 people at risk of famine. We believe this number is probably closer to 1 million people and we have now evidence that the number of malnourished children has dramatically increased.

Colleagues,

No meaningful humanitarian aid in Tigray has reached the region since mid-July. While seventy-five percent of the Tigray territory is now accessible for the humanitarian staff and supplies that are already inside Tigray, the Ethiopian government has sealed off the region.

Humanitarian aid entering Tigray is anecdotal compared to the needs, while on another scale, needs are increasing in Amhara and Afar as the Tigray conflict spills over into these regions.

The operating conditions for humanitarians have deteriorated sharply in the past two months, with organisations running out of supplies, fuel and cash and suffering from severe administrative access impediments.

Furthermore, the narrative of the Ethiopian Government towards relief organisations is becoming increasingly negative and dangerous.

In a shocking move, seven senior UN officials were declared “Persona Non Grata” last week, having to leave Ethiopia within 72 hours. One of them is involved in the investigation on possible war crimes and human rights violations. Two major humanitarian organisations were suspended this summer.

The gap left behind is unbridgeable. This results in a climate of fear and self-censure of relief actors.

Faced with this situation, the EU continues supporting civilians affected by the conflict through our humanitarian response efforts. Our absolute priority now is pushing for access to ensure that significant humanitarian aid reaches all those in need.

Enhanced action and collective pressure for immediate and unhindered humanitarian access and for respect of international humanitarian law are needed towards the Ethiopian authorities and all parties to the conflict. Our discussions next week during the high-level geopolitical dialogue with the EP on future cooperation under NDICI are also part of these efforts.”


Source: The Guardian

Ethiopia is facing an ‘immense humanitarian crisis’, UN chief warns

The UN estimates conflict has driven 400,000 into famine-like conditions in northern Ethiopia with up to seven million people in need of food assistance

An aid worker screens a child for malnutrition in Adikeh, in the Wajirat district of the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia on 19 July, 2021.
An aid worker screens a child for malnutrition in Adikeh, in the Wajirat district of the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia on 19 July, 2021. Photograph: Christine Nesbitt/AP
 and agencies

Ethiopia is facing an “immense humanitarian crisis” amid civil war and famine, United Nations secretary general António Guterres has warned.

 

The UN chief made the comments during an emergency meeting of the security council on Wednesday, calling for Addis Ababa to grant “unhindered” aid access, a week after the country expelled seven UN officials.

It is the second emergency meeting in a week to address the expulsion of seven UN officials from Ethiopia as conflict and famine-like conditions plague the north of the country.

The UN estimates conflict has driven 400,000 into famine-like conditions with up to seven million people in need of food assistance in regions such as Tigray, Amhara and Afar.

Last year, long-running tensions between prime minister Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) erupted into fighting.

“The country is facing an immense humanitarian crisis that demands immediate attention,” Guterres said. “All efforts should be squarely focused on saving lives and avoiding a massive human tragedy.”

The secretary general described the decision by the Ethiopian government to expel seven senior UN officials – most of them humanitarian staff – as “particularly disturbing”.

“This unprecedented expulsion should be a matter of deep concern for us all as it relates to the core of relations between the UN and member states,” Guterres added.

He urged Ethiopian authorities to allow the UN to deliver humanitarian aid “without hindrance and to facilitate and enable our work with the urgency that this situation demands” and criticised the country for not following the procedures in place in case of problems with UN officials within countries.

US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, also called on the Ethiopian government, the TPLF, and regional militias to “end the fighting now, allow humanitarian access, and move toward a negotiated ceasefire immediately” in a series of tweets on Thursday.

The explusions of Unicef, UNOCHA, and UN human rights staff were “an affront to the security council, she said. “There is no justification for the Ethiopian government’s actions. None at all,” she added.

Officials from Ethiopia were due to take part in the UN meeting.

On Friday, the security council met to discuss the expulsion of officials who were accused of “meddling” in Ethiopia’s internal affairs and of political manipulation of humanitarian aid.

Following the 30 September decision, the UN wrote to the Ethiopian government, stating that declaring a staff member persona non grata, and demanding they leave the territory, is inconsistent with a country’s obligation under the UN charter.

In a letter seen by Agence France-Presse, the UN says it has not been given “any information” on the officials’ alleged actions.

A UN spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said on Tuesday that Ethiopia has not provided any additional information.

The meeting on Wednesday was requested by the United States, Ireland, Estonia, Norway, Britain and France.

On Friday, the security council could not agree on a statement proposed by Ireland due to opposition from China and Russia.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, an ambassador of a security council member state told AFP that “we should move on to political negotiations.”

The expulsions sent shockwaves through the UN, where such moves are rare.

The UN’s humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, whose recent statements about the “blocking” of humanitarian aid and a growing risk of famine could be behind the decision, dismissed the allegations against the UN as false at the security council meeting on Friday, but did not say what they were, another ambassador of a council member told AFP.

The ambassador also said that the expulsions in Ethiopia could set a dangerous precedent for conflicts in Myanmar or Afghanistan.

“If we don’t resolve the situation in Ethiopia, it could create a snowball effect,” the ambassador added.

 

 

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