Through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ethiopia ordered seven United Nations (UN) members to leave the country within 72 hours for meddling in the country’s internal affairs on Thursday, Breitbart reported.

Through a statement issued on Sept. 30 via Twitter, the African country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote that “it declared ‘persona non grata’ seven individuals who have been working for some humanitarian agencies in Ethiopia for meddling in the country’s internal affairs.” They must leave the country within the next 72 hours.

Meanwhile, in a press release on Oct. 1, the Ministry explained its decision to expel the UN officials.

The statement said, “In connection to the current situation in the Northern part of Ethiopia, we had sadly observed that some UN staff have failed to fulfill their mission independently and impartially.”

“These supervisors failed to curtail the “grave violations” which “persisted,” and continued, “As such, as a measure of last resort, the Government of Ethiopia had to ask some officials of UN agencies to leave the country.”

According to reports, the high-level leaders who were kicked out include the UNICEF representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund and a team leader of the UN human rights office, OHCHR.

The Ethiopian government has accused the aid workers of supporting forces in Tigray, a region in northern Ethiopia, who have been fighting its soldiers and allied forces since November.

According to Breitbart, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the TPLF, is a Marxist separatist group, against which the Ethiopian government launched a military offensive in Nov. 2020, after forces allied to the group attacked federal military bases across Tigray.

These events triggered a violent civil war between Addis Ababa, the seat of Ethiopia’s national government, and the separatist TPLF. 

Eritrean troops allied with Addis Ababa have been deployed in Tigray to assist the Ethiopian federal army in the ongoing conflict.

The Ministry’s statement further detailed the apparent “breaches” of conduct committed by the expelled UN officials. 

Among the “serious violations” it listed the diversion of humanitarian assistance to Tigray forces, violation of security agreements, transfer of communications equipment for use by Tigray forces, “dissemination of misinformation and politicization of humanitarian assistance,” and “reluctance” to press for the return of trucks used in aid deliveries.

According to the African country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, these alleged UN actions “undermine Ethiopia’s sovereignty and pose a threat to its national security interests.”

On the other hand, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reacted this Friday to the Ethiopian Ministry’s statements. He replied to the Prime Minister that he was “surprised” and that the international organization does not accept the country’s decision, which it has no legal right to do so as the UN is not a state.

In turn, Farhan Haq, UN deputy spokesman, told in a diplomatic note sent to Ethiopia’s UN Mission that the UN’s “longstanding legal position” that the doctrine of declaring someone “persona non grata”—or unwelcome—doesn’t apply to UN personnel.”

“The application of this doctrine to United Nations officials is contrary to obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and the privileges and immunities to be afforded to the United Nations and its officials,” Haq added.

The massive humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia has resulted in some 300,000 Ethiopians being displaced in recent months to other regions of Ethiopia and others to neighboring countries such as Sudan.

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