United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres has demanded Ethiopia shows proof that confirms the seven UN expelled staff are guilty of the allegations of misconduct and interfering in its internal affairs.
Last week, the East-African nation accused the UN staff of taking sides in the war in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region and expanding the scale of the humanitarian crisis that began November last year between Ethiopia’s federal troops and forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which controls Tigray.
“It is my duty to defend the honour of the United Nations,” Guterres told reporters after a rare public exchange with Ethiopia’s Ambassador to UN, Taye Atske Selassie Amde at the end of a 15-member Security Council meeting on Wednesday the situation in the country.
“We believe that Ethiopia is violating international law in doing so,” Guterres said. “And we are ready to cooperate with the government of Ethiopia in relation to any situation in which the government of Ethiopia feels that any member of the UN is not behaving in total impartiality, in total independence, as humanitarian law prescribes.”
Selassie alleged the officials had made up data and also accused them of supporting the Tigrayan forces who are fighting the government.
“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,” he added.
“Ethiopia deeply resent this experience,” the ambassador continued, adding that the government had written to the UN about staff conduct in July.
Guterres said he told Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed twice that if there were any concerns about the impartiality of UN staff, then the government should share the information so the UN could investigate.
According to Guterres, up to seven million people in Tigray, Amhara and Afar need help, including five million in Tigray where some 400,000 people are estimated to be living in famine-like conditions.
He called on the Ethiopian 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.