Guterres criticizes the “unprecedented expulsion” of personnel from Ethiopia; calls for focus on saving lives

Mr. Guterres was addressing the security Council, where he briefed on the growing needs in the north, resulting from the war in the Tigray region.

Faced with the huge crisis, the UN chief said all efforts should be aimed at saving lives and averting massive human tragedy.

“Unprecedented eviction”

“This makes last Thursday’s announcement by the Ethiopian government to expel seven top UN officials – mostly humanitarian workers – particularly worrying,” he added. he Recount ambassadors.

The “unprecedented expulsion” is deeply worrying, he said, “because it goes to the heart of relations between the UN and member states”.

Following the September 30 decision, the UN wrote to the Ethiopian government, stating that declaring a staff member persona non grata, and requiring them to leave the territory, is incompatible with a country’s obligation under the A Charter.

The diplomatic note explained that if a government had specific problems involving individuals, the UN should be informed so that the Secretary-General could take the necessary action.

“In other words, there is an appropriate formal procedure – and this procedure has not been followed,” said Mr Guterres.

Millions of hungry people

The United Nations will continue to work with the government and its partners to support the millions of people across the country who need help.

“I now call on the Ethiopian authorities to allow us to do this without hindrance and to facilitate and enable our work with the urgency that this situation demands,” he said.

The Secretary-General underlined the scale of the crisis in northern Ethiopia after nearly a year of fighting between federal troops and regional forces in Tigray.

The conflict has spread to neighbors Afar and Amhara, and a total of some seven million people are in need of food and emergency aid. More than five million alone are in Tigray, where around 400,000 people live in conditions bordering on famine.

Aid levels are currently insufficient to meet needs, amid obstacles such as roadblocks and restrictions on movement. In addition, access to electricity remains precarious and millions of people have been cut off from communications and vital services, such as health care.

Call for support

There are reports of violations by all parties, including gender-based and sexual violence against women and girls. Mr Guterres said aid workers have shared alarming accounts of the suffering on the ground, including growing reports of hunger-related deaths.

“I urge the government to allow the free flow of fuel, money, communications equipment and desperately needed humanitarian supplies to all areas in need,”», Declared the secretary general.

“I call on all members of the Security Council to do everything possible to support these appeals and to unite behind the efforts of the United Nations and its partners in Ethiopia.

This week Ethiopia inaugurated a new government and the UN chief urged the administration to “work with renewed determination to be a government for all.”

Ethiopia addresses Council

Ethiopian Ambassador to the UN Taye Atske-Selassie, who also addressed the Council, said the country has no legal obligation to provide justifications or explanations for its decisions.

“The UN personnel expelled by Ethiopia have put aside their oath, the rules of professional conduct and the principles of humanitarian aid,” he said, before listing many alleged transgressions.

The misconduct of a few individuals does not undermine the professionalism of UN teams in the country or elsewhere, he said, but “speaks rather of the serious ethical dilemma that existed in the humanitarian operation in Ethiopia during of the last 11 months “.

Mr Atske-Selassie further stated that “eviction was not our main course of action”. He said the deputy prime minister and the foreign minister wrote to the UN in July on the issue. “We also summoned some of the people and warned them to stop their misconduct. Nevertheless, the transgressions continued unabated. “

Right of reply

In response to the Ethiopian Ambassador, Mr. Guterres took the very unusual decision to request a formal right of reply.

He said if there was a written document provided by the Ethiopian government “to any UN agency” about one of the expelled UN staff, “I would like to receive a copy of this document, as I have no knowledge of it. “

He called on the ambassador to provide the evidence, recalling that he had twice asked the Prime Minister to express his concerns about the “impartiality” of UN personnel, without receiving a response.

“We believe that Ethiopia is violating international law”, and has no right to expel the seven, said the Secretary-General, and “in doing so, we are ready to cooperate with the Ethiopian government regarding any situation in which the Ethiopian government considers that no member of the United Nations is behaving in all impartiality, in complete independence, as prescribed by humanitarian law and humanitarian principles establish it. ”

The UN chief said that the Organization had “only one agenda in Ethiopia, and that agenda is the Ethiopian people – the Tigrayans, the Amharans, the Afaris, the Somalis, the Ethiopian people”.

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