UN chief says Ethiopia has no right to expel UN staff

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the Security Council meeting on Ethiopia at the UN headquarters in New York, Oct 6, 2021. Guterres said on Wednesday that Ethiopia has no right to expel UN staff and it is violating the international law in doing this. (LOEY FELIPE / XINHUA)

UNITED NATIONS – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that Ethiopia has no right to expel UN staff and it is violating the international law in doing this.

In his right of reply at the Security Council meeting on Ethiopia, the top UN official said that "we believe that Ethiopia has not the right to expel these members of the UN."

"We believe Ethiopia is violating international law in doing so," he added.

READ MORE: UN condemns Ethiopia's decision to expel its officials

Speaking directly to Ethiopia's permanent representative to the UN, Taye Atske Selassie, who was also in the Security Council chamber, the secretary-general said that "if there is any written document, provided by the Ethiopian Government to any UN institution, about any of the members of the UN that were expelled, I would like to receive a copy of that document, because I have not had any knowledge of any of them."

"It would be very useful for me to detect, if documents are given to the UN and not given to my knowledge, then I have to investigate what has happened in my organization," he added.

Guterres recalled that he "twice" told the Ethiopian prime minister that "if there were concerns about lack of, how to say, lack of impartiality of UN staff, that I asked him, please, send me those situations for me to be able to investigate. "

"Until now I have no response to these requests," he stressed.

We are ready to cooperate with the government of Ethiopia in relation to any situation in which the government of Ethiopia feels that any member of the UN is not behaving in total impartiality, in total independence, as humanitarian law prescribes and humanitarian principles establish.

Antonio Guterres,

the United Nations Secretary-General

The secretary-general said that "we are ready to cooperate with the government of Ethiopia in relation to any situation in which the government of Ethiopia feels that any member of the UN is not behaving in total impartiality, in total independence, as humanitarian law prescribes and humanitarian principles establish."

"I want to tell you, Mr. ambassador, we want to cooperate with the government of Ethiopia, because we have only one agenda in Ethiopia, and that agenda is the people of Ethiopia – Tigrayans, Amharans, Afaris, Somalis, the people of Ethiopia."

"The people of Ethiopia are suffering. We have no other interest but to help stop that suffering," he said.

Guterres told the Council before he exercised his right of reply that up to 7 million people in Tigray, Amhara and Afar are now in need of food assistance and other emergency support. This includes more than 5 million people in Tigray where an estimated 400,000 people are "living in famine-like conditions."

The Ethiopian Government announced on Sept 30 that seven UN officials had been declared "persona non grata" and given 72 hours to leave the country. 

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