Ethiopia was hailed as a success story. Now the UN uses another word to describe development in the country. On Friday night, the crisis is the subject of a closed-door meeting of the Security Council.
June 26, 1945 was a historic day. Then several dozen world leaders rallied around the same document. With 50 strokes of the ballpoint pen, the UN was launched.
The countries that were present that day are today considered the founders of the organization.
One of them was Ethiopia. This week, the country ended up in a bad condition with the organization in which it was involved. A Norwegian is central to the unfolding diplomatic crisis.
On Friday night, the UN Security Council will hold a closed-door meeting on the country. It is happening at a time when famine in the country is approaching catastrophic levels.
The government of Peace Prize winner Abiy Ahmed on Thursday gave several UN leaders 72 hours to leave the country.
It is happening while the need for emergency aid is enormous and the UN is fighting to prevent a famine disaster in the state of Tigray. Among the deportees are the heads of UNICEF and the UN Office for Emergency Aid in Ethiopia.
– Ethiopia must immediately withdraw deportations, sier Foreign Minister Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide (H) on Friday afternoon.
The closed-door meeting of the Security Council on Friday will take place at the initiative of Norway, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Ireland and Estonia.
Søreide believes that it is very worrying and sad that the Ahmed government is now restricting dialogue and cooperation with the international community.
– That in this way he tries to isolate himself from criticism, has important consequences for the UN’s ability to help the country. It leads the country to an unattractive club of undemocratic and oppressive countries, says the foreign minister.
“Stain on our conscience”
The deportations came a few days after the UN humanitarian aid chief issued a clear message:
The crisis in Ethiopia is a “stain on our conscience,” said Martn Griffiths in an interview with AP.
By that, he meant the ongoing war in Tigray. There a bloody conflict breaks out.
On one side is the Ethiopian government. It is led by Peace Prize winner and Prime Minister Ahmed. On the other side is the Tigray Liberation Army (TPLF).
The conflict began in earnest when the TPLF attacked one of the government’s military bases in November last year. Then Ahmed launched a military offensive in Tigray, with the support of the Eritrean army.
Eleven months later, the area is devastated by fierce fighting. Thousands of people have died. 1.2 million people are internally displaced. Rape and starvation are used as weapons.
The people of Tigray are now facing the worst famine in the world in ten years.
– People die
In one of the hospitals in the capital, Mekele, the situation is critical. They barely have emergency rations to give to hungry children, according to a doctor Aftenposten has spoken with. Surgeons pass out while operating. It happens because they have not eaten food.
“Lack of food will cause people to die,” UN chief Griffith said Tuesday.
At the same time, he said he was hopeful about what would happen next week. Then the new Ethiopian government is launched. Abiy Ahmed will continue as prime minister, but new ministers are expected to join.
Griffith hoped that a new leadership would move Ethiopia “from the abyss that the country now looks down on.”
In the past, the UN has used the word “success story” to describe the country.
Griffith’s words were not well received by the upper steps.
Exiled from the country
The day after he condemned the conflict, seven UN officials were expelled from Ethiopia.
One of them is the Norwegian Saeed Hersi. He is deputy director of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the country.
Hersi confirms to Aftenposten that he is among those expelled. But he cannot comment on the situation. On the other hand, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Gueterre, did so on Thursday night.
– I’m in shock, he wrote. a declaration.
– This was expected.
A humanitarian worker tells Aftenposten. The person cannot speak publicly about the crisis. Therefore, it remains anonymous.
Aid workers have long been reluctant to speak openly about the conflict in Tigray. The Ahmed government is said to have made it very difficult for aid organizations to access.
Bureaucratic hurdles make it an almost impossible process. If aid gets the green light, new problems arise. Among other things, authorities are blocking access to gasoline, says the aid worker.
At the same time, the Ethiopian government has accused aid organizations of, among other things, providing support to TPLF fighters.
The government has not documented the allegations. The UN has dismissed the accusations as “unacceptable and unfair.”
The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry justifies the deportations on the grounds that the UN has interfered in the country’s internal affairs.
– The UN is not a party to the conflict that is taking place in Ethiopia. The UN works for the Ethiopian people and is present to provide assistance and protection throughout the country, emphasizes Søreide.
The UN believes that Ethiopia has no legal right to expel its employees, something Guterres informed Abiy in a phone conversation on Friday. The UN position is that the doctrine of declaring someone persona non grata, or unwanted, does not apply to UN personnel.
Therefore, it is in conflict with the obligations of the UN Charter, says UN spokesman Farhan Haq.
Called on the carpet
At the same time, the humanitarian situation in Tigray is deteriorating. 100 aid trucks must arrive in the region every day to meet the need, according to aid organizations.
But fewer than 500 have arrived since July. The UN has been closely monitoring the situation. In various reports, they have documented the famine.
For that, the Ethiopian authorities have called them on the carpet.
– They have not been satisfied with our reports, says a UN source.
Now seven UN workers have been expelled. However, the organization will continue to seek assistance in Tigray. It is too early to say how it will be affected by this week’s diplomatic drama. But:
– The government feels very pressured by the world community. This means that he often takes defensive positions.