The UN is recalling two high-ranking female officials serving in Ethiopia after a recording was released of them accusing UN officials, including the WHO director, of sympathizing with the Tigray rebel group, which began a revolt against Ethiopia’s central government in 2020.
As indicated by Europa Press, after the International Organization for Migration (IOM) last week placed Maureen Achieng, the head of its mission in Ethiopia, on administrative leave. Then, on Tuesday, Oct. 12, Dennia Gayle, the Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) was recalled to New York for “further discussions.”
Multiple audios surfaced last week of an interview the two women gave to reporter Jeff Pearce, who has been publishing numerous articles defending the Ethiopian government in the Tigray war.
According to Reuters, the two women allege that Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director of the World Health Organization, is among the UN officials sympathetic to the rebel forces in Tigray.
Tedros is Tigrayan and was Minister of Health in a previous Ethiopian government, which was led by the TPLF.
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), is a Marxist separatist group, against which the Ethiopian government launched a military offensive in November 2020, after forces allied to the group attacked federal military bases across Tigray.
The WHO director has however repeatedly denied taking sides in the conflict.
Last month, the Ethiopian government declared seven members of the United Nations (UN) “persona non grata” and ordered them to leave the country, accusing them of meddling in the country’s internal affairs and taking sides with the Tigray rebels.
In a statement it issued on September 30, the central government of Abiy Ahmed, the African country’s prime minister, 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.”
Senior leaders who were indicted by Abiy include the UNICEF representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund, and a team leader of the UN human rights office, OHCHR.
Maureen Achieng’s departure was confirmed in a letter dated Monday, Oct. 11, by Antonio Vitorino, the Director of the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM), who said the official was recalled from Ethiopia and placed on administrative leave while the recording is investigated.
Meanwhile, Billene Seyoum, spokesperson for Prime Minister Abiy’s office, tweeted her defense of Achieng.
“The “administrative leave” imposed on IOM’s @MaureenAAchieng for telling the unvarnished truth on institutional bias within the @UN system and in relation to the #TerroristTPLF’s criminality is deeply disturbing.”
“Internal & external politics of influence within the higher echelons of power in the UN system needs to be throughly investigated,” Billene Seyoum stated in another tweet.