Ethiopia said Thursday it would expel seven senior UN officials for “meddling” in its affairs, a move that came after aid workers sounded the alarm about humanitarian access to conflict-ravaged Tigray.
The Foreign Ministry said it had “declared seven people working for various international NGOs in Ethiopia ‘persona non grata’ for meddling in the country’s internal affairs.”
“According to the letters addressed to each of the 7 people listed below, they must all leave the territory of Ethiopia within the next 72 hours,” he said on his Facebook page.
The statement named seven officials who work for various UN agencies.
. @ mfaethiopia declared “persona non grata” to seven people who have been working for some international NGOs in #Ethiopia for meddling in the internal affairs of the country. They must leave the country within the next 72 hours. September 30, 2021 pic.twitter.com/9sk9e7YFYE
– MFA Ethiopia🇪🇹 (@mfaethiopia) September 30, 2021
Ethiopia’s northernmost Tigray region has been embroiled in conflict since November.
The United Nations had previously estimated that 400,000 people face famine-like conditions there, raising fears of death from starvation.
The UN has said the region remains under a de facto blockade and warned of “impending catastrophe” as fighting between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) have spread to areas. neighbors.
The acting UN humanitarian coordinator for Ethiopia, Grant Leaity, one of the officials facing expulsion, warned this month that supplies of relief aid, cash and fuel are “running low or completely depleted” and food reserves they had been sold out at the end of August.
The Ethiopian authorities and the TPLF have accused each other of obstructing aid convoys trying to reach Tigray.
As the war has spread, claiming thousands of lives, the humanitarian crisis has only worsened.
Earlier this month, doctors told AFP that Tigray was entering a new phase of deaths fueled by the kind of widespread famine that made Ethiopia synonymous with famine in the 1980s.
Abiy sent troops to overthrow the TPLF, then the regional ruling party, in November, a move he said came in response to the group’s attacks on army camps.
The 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner promised a quick victory, but the TPLF took back much of Tigray, including its capital, Mekele, in June, and government forces largely withdrew.
Then Abiy announced a humanitarian ceasefire, but very little aid has come in – less than 10 percent of supplies needed over the past month, according to the United States.