Ethiopia ordered seven UN officials on Thursday to leave the country within 72 hours
According to a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, staffers from different UN organizations have been declared “persona non grata” for “meddling in the internal affairs” of the nation.
The list includes Grant Leaity, deputy humanitarian coordinator for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA); Adele Khodr, UNICEF representative in Ethiopia; Ghada Eltahir Mudawi, acting deputy humanitarian coordinator at UNOCHA in Ethiopia; Kwesi Sansculotte, peace and development adviser at UNOCHA; Saeed Mohamoud Hersi, deputy head of Office for UNOCHA in Ethiopia; Marcy Vigoda, head of Office for UNOCHA in Ethiopia; and Sonny Onyegbula, monitoring, reporting and advocacy team leader for UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The statement did not provide further details but the declaration was made in connection with the agencies operations in Ethiopia’s northernmost region of Tigray.
A region of 5.5 million people, Tigray came under intense international spotlight after an armed conflict began between the federal government and forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
It began Nov. 4 when the federal government launched a law enforcement operation in Tigray, one day after TPLF forces attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian Defense Forces stationed across Tigray, killing soldiers and looting sizable military hardware.
There is no end in sight to the fighting 11 months into the conflict as TPLF forces crossed deep into the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar, taking advantage of a unilateral cease-fire declared by the government and subsequent withdrawal of its troops.
According to the UN, more than 2 million people have been internally displaced while tens of thousands fled to neighboring Sudan.
The World Food Program said more than 400 trucks that entered Tigray to deliver humanitarian consignments have not returned, while Ethiopia said the trucks were being used by rebels for war activities.
The UN has cited both sides for human rights violations while a joint investigation is ongoing by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.