UN Says Ethiopia Has No Right To Expel Its Office

UN Secretary -General Antonio Guterres told Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed that Ethiopia had no legal basis for expelling seven UN humanitarian officials.

According to Farhan Haq, deputy UN spokesman, Guterres in a Friday telephone conversation with the Ethiopian leader said the world body did not accept Ethiopia’s decision to expel a senior UN official.

Haq said the United Nations Office for Legal Affairs sent a note Friday to the Ethiopian mission at the United Nations, New York stating the longstanding UN legal position that the act of declaring a person “persona non grata” does not apply to UN personnel.

Ethiopia announced the expulsion Thursday, giving UN officials 72 hours to leave the country.

In a joke, Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said the seven men “interfered in the country’s internal affairs.”

The tease comes amid increasing pressure on the government over its deadly blockade in the Tigray region where children are reported to be starving. The Ethiopian government has accused humanitarian workers of supporting Tigray troops who have been fighting his army and allied forces since November. The allegations were denied by aid workers.

Haq said the UN officials were still in Ethiopia. When asked by a reporter if the UN officials would leave Ethiopia at the end of 72 hours, Haq gave no direct answer. [my/pp]

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