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News: UN chief “shocked” by staff expulsion from Ethiopia

Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR at a Press Conference after 66th session of Excom. 9 October 2015. UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré

Addis Abeba, September 30/2021 – The UN Secretary General
António Guterres said he “was shocked by the information that the Government of Ethiopia has declared seven UN officials, including senior UN humanitarian officials, as persona non grata.”

He also said the UN was now engaging with the Government of Ethiopia in the expectation that the concerned UN staff will be allowed to continue their important work.

 

The Secretary General’s statement came after Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it has issued in letters today declaring a “persona non grata” for seven individuals who the Ministry said are working for various UN affiliated organizations working in Ethiopia “for meddling in the internal affairs of the country.

“All UN humanitarian operations are guided by the core principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and independence.  In Ethiopia, the UN is delivering lifesaving aid – including food, medicine, water, and sanitation supplies – to people in desperate need. I have full confidence in the UN staff who are in Ethiopia doing this work,” Mr Guterres said., adding the UN was “committed to helping Ethiopian people who rely on humanitarian assistance.”

In early August Ethiopia has temporarily suspended MSF Holland, the Norwegian Refugee Council and Al-Maktoume humanitarian operations in Ethiopia. 

The government accused MSF Holland and the Norwegian Refugee Council of disseminating misinformation on social media and other platforms outside of the mandate and purpose for which the organizations were permitted to operate, employing foreign nationals without the appropriate work permit from the Ethiopian government for more than six months, illegally importing and using satellite radio equipment which was not authorized by the relevant authority. The employees were thus apprehended by the security forces for using the equipment for illegal purposes. 

It also claimed that Al-Maktoume Foundation failed to comply with the Ministry of Education’s COVID-19 guidelines, to manage its budget and accused it of misusing its budget in the name of the school, and problems with staff management. All three remained suspended. AS

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