“Senior Western officials broadly confirmed Tigrayan accounts that the assault, which had been anticipated for weeks, started in the Amhara region, which borders Tigray to the south. “

Source: New York Times

Western officials confirmed Tigrayan reports of an assault on several fronts. Aid workers said it will intensify a dire humanitarian crisis.

Lining up for food aid in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia on Sunday.Lining up for food aid in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia on Sunday.Credit…Jemal Countess/Getty ImagesDeclan Walsh

By Declan WalshOct. 12, 2021

NAIROBI, Kenya — The conflict in northern Ethiopia has escalated sharply in recent days, as Ethiopian forces began a sweeping offensive in a bid to reverse recent gains by Tigrayan rebels, Western officials and Tigrayan leaders said.

U.N. officials said the attack will deepen the humanitarian crisis in a region that is plunging into the world’s worst famine in a decade. With the Ethiopian government blocking aid shipments, some starving Tigrayans are eating leaves to survive.

Senior Western officials broadly confirmed Tigrayan accounts that the assault, which had been anticipated for weeks, started in the Amhara region, which borders Tigray to the south. But beyond that, it is hard to get a clear picture of the situation.

A strict communications blackout imposed by the government means few details about the fighting can be independently confirmed. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who was sworn in for a second term last week, has declined to comment in recent days.

His spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Speaking by phone, Gen. Tsadkan Gebretensae, a member of the central command of the Tigray forces and its leading strategist, said Ethiopian forces had begun the military operation on Friday with a bombardment of Tigrayan positions using warplanes, artillery and drones.

On Monday, the Ethiopians switched to a ground offensive led by thousands of fighters, to be met by a Tigrayan counteroffensive, he said.

“The enemy has been preparing for months, and so have we,” said General Tsadkan, who previously commanded Ethiopia’s armed forces for a decade. He predicted the coming battle would be a “decisive moment” for the country.

“The ramifications will be military, political and diplomatic,” he said. “I don’t think this will be a protracted fight — a matter of days, most probably weeks.”

Ethiopian soldiers training in Dabat last month. Government forces have been preparing for the recent move against the Tigrayan rebels for months.Ethiopian soldiers training in Dabat last month. Government forces have been preparing for the recent move against the Tigrayan rebels for months.Credit…Amanuel Sileshi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

For Mr. Abiy, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, the offensive is an effort to wrest control of a brutal 11-month war that has ruined his reputation as a peacemaker and slipped beyond his grip as the fighting spread to new areas in recent months.

Mr. Abiy has appeared increasingly isolated from international support as the United States threatens him with the prospect of sanctions, and he clashes with the U.N. leadership. Only a few African leaders have continued to support him.

This month, Ethiopia expelled seven senior U.N. officials it accused of “meddling” in the nation’s internal affairs and diverting aid to the Tigrayan rebels. The U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres denied those charges in unusually sharp language, telling Mr. Abiy the expulsions had no legal basis.

Likening the situation to the devastating Somalia famine of 2011, Mr. Guterres said he warned Mr. Abiy that Ethiopian restrictions on the delivery of aid had created a humanitarian crisis that was “spiraling out of control.”

Over five million Tigrayans urgently need relief aid, and at least 400,000 are in famine-like conditions, the U.N. says. But barely one-tenth of required aid has reached them because Ethiopia has blocked the routes into the region, officials said.

The Biden administration has tried to force Mr. Abiy and the Tigrayans into peace talks by threatening sanctions against “officials and entities” who block humanitarian aid and refuse to stop fighting.

With his latest attack, however, Mr. Abiy seems to be gambling that he can prevail using force.

Western officials said the Ethiopian leader had been preparing the offensive for months. He amassed new weapons from foreign suppliers and recruited tens of thousands of young Ethiopians to help fight Tigrayan forces he has described as “cancer” and “weeds.”

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed during his inauguration ceremony in Addis Ababa last week, where he was sworn in for a second five-year term.Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed during his inauguration ceremony in Addis Ababa last week, where he was sworn in for a second five-year term.Credit…Mulugeta Ayene/Associated Press

One Western official said Mr. Abiy had acquired new drones built in Iran, Turkey and China, although it is unclear who supplied them to Ethiopia. Websites that track international air traffic have recorded dozens of cargo flights from the United Arab Emirates, and a handful from Iran, into Ethiopian air force bases in the past six weeks.

Tigrayan leaders have accused the U.A.E. of sending armed drones to help Mr. Abiy during the early weeks of the war last November; Emirati officials have refused to comment. Airstrikes took out most of the Tigrayan artillery and forced its troops to retreat into the remote countryside.

A more consequential question now is whether Eritrea will again rally to Mr. Abiy’s side. Eritrean troops offered crucial support in the first phase of the war, until June, and faced many of the worst accusations of atrocities against civilians. The Eritreans are currently occupying Humera, a town in western Tigray, and some have deployed to Amhara, two western officials said.

But it’s unclear if they are participating in the latest fighting.

Tigrayan forces scored a series of surprise victories that forced Ethiopian forces out of Tigray. In July, the Tigrayans pushed into the Amhara region, where the fighting has been centered ever since.

A long-running dispute between Amhara and Tigray over a swath of disputed land drew Amhara militias into the fight against Tigray last November. The Tigrayans say those fighters are also participating in the latest offensives, along with regular Ethiopian troops and young men from across Ethiopia drawn by Mr. Abiy’s appeal for recruits during the summer.

But General Tsadkan, the Tigrayan commander, said he considered the autocratic leader of Eritrea, Isaias Afwerki, who is an old foe of the Tigrayans, as his greatest threat.

“Isaias and his army are the major spoiler in the region,” he said. “If the international community is earnestly looking for a peaceful solution, a settlement will not happen without taking care of Isaias.”

In Amba Giorgis, in the Amhara region of Ethiopia, last month.In Amba Giorgis, in the Amhara region of Ethiopia, last month.Credit…Amanuel Sileshi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Both sides face intense pressures. The Tigrayans, surrounded by enemies, risk running out of supplies soon. Mr. Abiy is wrestling with a steep economic slide that has led to soaring food prices and foreign currency shortages, which American sanctions could soon make worse.

Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s biggest airline and Ethiopia’s flagship economic success, last week denied a report on CNN that its aircraft had been used to ship weapons and soldiers for the war in Tigray.

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with the newly appointed African Union envoy to Ethiopia, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, to discuss the crisis.

Some African leaders are standing by Mr. Abiy. Six heads of state, mostly from the region, attended his inauguration celebrations in Addis Ababa last week. But several of the congratulatory speeches included expressions of growing concern, and urged Mr. Abiy toward peace talks.

“Ethiopia is our mother,” said President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya. “If our mother is not at peace, neither can the family be at peace.”

The criticism of Mr. Abiy in the West is growing increasingly strident. Last week an essay by Mark Lowcock, a former British diplomat and until recently the U.N.’s humanitarian chief, accused Mr. Abiy of trying to starve the people of Tigray “either into subjugation or out of existence” and warned he risked causing his country to collapse.

“Abiy’s game plan cannot work,” Mr. Lowcock wrote, citing what he said was a growing expert consensus. “If he tries and fails to destroy Tigray, he will be destroyed himself. If he succeeds, he will never survive the backlash that will follow.”


Maureen Achieng – head of United Nation’s migration agency in Ethiopia – withdrawn after she called the TPLF “dirty” and “vicious”, vowing never to return to Tigray.

Source: AFP


Mon, 11 October 2021, 8:27 pm·3-min read

The departure of Maureen Achieng, confirmed in a letter dated Monday and seen by AFP, risks further undermining an aid response still shaken by Ethiopia’s decision last month to expel seven other senior UN officials for allegedly “meddling” in its affairs.

It comes more than 11 months into a brutal war in northern Ethiopia that has driven hundreds of thousands of people into famine-like conditions, according to UN estimates, and sparked mounting global concern.

Last week, multiple recordings surfaced online of Achieng and another senior UN official granting a lengthy interview to Jeff Pearce, a writer who has published multiple articles defending the government’s conduct of the war against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

In the recordings, Achieng, the International Organization for Migration’s chief of mission to Ethiopia, tears into colleagues who “descended on” Addis Ababa after the war erupted last November and, in her telling, sidelined officials on the ground.

She also calls the TPLF “dirty” and “vicious”, vowing never to return to Tigray.

At one point she accuses the rebels of plotting to have Tigrayan migrant workers facing deportation from Saudi Arabia sent to Rwanda.

“And then you don’t know what guerrilla movement starts from Rwanda. I mean, it’s dirty,” she says.

In an internal note to colleagues last week, also seen by AFP, Achieng said she was “deeply disturbed and disappointed” by the audio, which she said had been “surreptitiously recorded and selectively edited.”

However at several points during the interview the participants openly discuss that it is being recorded.

– ‘We do not take sides’ –

On Monday Antonio Vitorino, director general of IOM, wrote a letter distancing the agency from Achieng’s comments.

“The opinions attributed in the audio recordings to the staff member do not correspond to IOM’s principles and values and should not in any way be considered as expressing IOM’s positions,” it said.

The letter, which does not refer to Achieng by name, says she was “immediately recalled” and “put on administrative leave” pending an investigation.

Her interview violated the IOM’s values and code of conduct, Mohammed Abdiker, the agency’s regional director for the East and Horn of Africa, told AFP.

“In all our operations we try to be impartial and neutral in our work. We do not take sides in a conflict,” Abdiker said, adding that Achieng’s comments raised security concerns for staff members on the ground, including in Tigray.

The dust-up comes amid fears fighting is about to intensify again, with the TPLF saying Monday that government troops had launched ground offensives “on all fronts” including in the northern region of Amhara.

Ethiopian officials have not confirmed the new offensive, though a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the government had “a responsibility to protect its citizens in all parts of the country from any acts of terrorism”.

Humanitarian and rebel sources told AFP over the weekend that Ethiopian troops had launched air and ground strikes as part of the first phase of an offensive which — if confirmed — would come just one week after Abiy was sworn in for a new five-year term.

A US State Department spokesperson told AFP Monday that Washington was considering “the use of targeted economic sanctions to hold accountable those responsible for, or complicit in, prolonging the conflict”.


“Prominent members of the Ethiopian government or pro-government activists have been ramping up anti-Tigrayan rhetoric, as well as anti-journalist, anti-activist, inflammatory rhetoric targeting anyone who might be deemed critical of the Ethiopian government or critical of the Ethiopian government’s narratives. This has more or less normalized the state violence that’s been targeting ethnic Tigrayans over the course of the past 11 months, instilled a degree of fear amongst Ethiopian population.”

Source: National Public Radio

A whistleblower says Facebook’s algorithms could be stoking tensions and fanning ethnic violence in Ethiopia.


Hate and division on Facebook are not just a problem in the U.S. That’s one of the messages whistleblower Frances Haugen took to Congress last week, where she accused Facebook’s algorithms of quote, “literally fanning ethnic violence in Ethiopia,” a country that’s endured nearly a year of civil war.


FRANCES HAUGEN: My fear is that without action, divisive and extremist behaviors we see today are only the beginning. What we saw in Myanmar and are now seeing in Ethiopia are only the opening chapters of a story so terrifying, no one wants to read the end of it.

CORNISH: The United Nations says millions of people have been forced from their homes. Hundreds of thousands are facing famine-like conditions because of the conflict between the Ethiopian government and Tigray rebels. Freelance journalist Zecharias Zelalem has been reporting extensively on Ethiopia, and he says he agrees with Haugen’s assessment. And we’ll pause here to note that Facebook is among NPR’s financial supporters.

Now, earlier, Zelalem described the role of social media in the conflict.

ZECHARIAS ZELALEM: Just looking at the instances of documented evidence over the course of the past three years in which prominent Facebook posters would post unverified, often inflammatory posts or rhetoric that would then go on to incite mob violence, ethnic clashes, crackdowns on independent press or outspoken voices.

CORNISH: Who were some of the perpetrators of this kind of violence? I mean, when you say someone posts misinformation, what could that look like that could start a mob?

ZELALEM: Well, in recent times, if we’re going to make reference to the ongoing conflict now, prominent members of the Ethiopian government or pro-government activists have been ramping up anti-Tigrayan rhetoric, as well as anti-journalist, anti-activist, inflammatory rhetoric targeting anyone who might be deemed critical of the Ethiopian government or critical of the Ethiopian government’s narratives. This has more or less normalized the state violence that’s been targeting ethnic Tigrayans over the course of the past 11 months, instilled a degree of fear amongst Ethiopian population.

CORNISH: The Ethiopian government has denied ethnic cleansing accusations. Can you talk about how the conflict is upending the lives of civilians?

ZELALEM: Well, I mean, the ethnic cleansing accusations are something that are very well-documented and corroborated by dozens of credible media sources and diplomatic sources, human rights organizations. At this point, 11 months into the conflict, it’s not really something that’s up for – it’s not really something that’s up for debate anymore.

CORNISH: Facebook has responded to Haugen’s criticisms by saying, quote, “to suggest we encourage bad content and do nothing is just not true.” They also talk about the idea of having to balance freedom of expression in places where people use the platform. What, if anything, is this conversation like in Ethiopia? Is anyone talking about Facebook? From your position, are they doing what they say?

ZELALEM: Well, with regards to your second question, Ethiopia being a relatively authoritarian society, critical conversation is not something that’s encouraged. It’s something that could wind you up behind bars. So there isn’t that much of an open societal debate. But I can quite honestly say that Facebook has – if it has done anything, it’s not nearly enough, at least, because there have been more than enough documented incidents.

I know of a very recent instance where a media outlet posted an inflammatory post blaming members of an ethnic minority for carrying out the murders and kidnappings that took place on September 27. And this Facebook post got hundreds of shares, hundreds of likes, all sorts of reaction. And a day later, on the 28 of September – so just barely two weeks ago – the village cited in the Facebook post was ransacked, burnt to the ground, inhabitants murdered. Like I said, this is very recent. This is barely two weeks ago. And despite multiple efforts to report the post, it remains up and live as of this moment.

CORNISH: We’ve been speaking to journalist Zecharias Zelalem. Thank you for sharing your reporting.

ZELALEM: Thank you for having me.

CORNISH: We reached out to Facebook. They told NPR that Ethiopia is a company priority and that it has worked to improve proactive detection to remove more harmful content at scale.

News and Press Release
8 Oct 2021
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8 Oct 2021
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Kombolcha – Amhara Region, Ethiopia - “UNFPA is here today to make sure we provide the support needed for the 700,000 displaced people in Amhara region and that the health facilities - which are already overstretched - have the capacity to deliver life-saving services” said Ms. Dennia Gayle, UNFPA Representative, during the official handover ceremony of medical supplies on September 22 in Kombolcha, Amhara Region to address the recent humanitarian crisis in the region. Emergency reproductive health kits and dignity kits were handed over at the ceremony in the presence of H.E. Dr. Dereje Duguma, State Minister of Health and officials of the Amhara Region Health Bureau.

UNFPA delivered 20,000 Dignity Kits and 145 emergency reproductive health kits to serve more than 200,000 internally displaced people in 22 health facilities. Meanwhile, emergency reproductive health kits and dignity kits were also handed over to the Afar Region to respond to the recent humanitarian crisis in the region bringing the total worth of the medical and hygiene supplies donated by UNFPA to the Amhara and Afar regions to nearly 1 million USD.

Nearly 900,000 people have been newly displaced as a result of the conflict in Tigray which has spiraled into bordering areas of the Amhara and Afar regions since July, 2021. Climate-related shocks and intercommunal conflicts are also impacting more than 5 million people across Amhara and Afar regions.

Mentioning that essential health care services have been disrupted as a result of the conflict, H.E. Dr. Dereje Duguma, State Minister of Health of Ethiopia expressed during the ceremony his appreciation for the support and leadership of UNFPA to provide “life-saving supplies to serve our mothers and sisters at the right time and when it is most needed”.

Ms. Dennia Gayle reassured that “UNFPA is particularly concerned for the thousands of displaced women and adolescent girls who remain in urgent need of essential and life-saving health, protection and support services. We will do everything at our hand to deliver the urgently needed support and to ensure no one is left behind in both Afar and Amhara regions”.

Since the onset of the conflict in northern Ethiopia, UNFPA has been closely working with government implementing partners and other humanitarian actors to address the humanitarian needs of IDPs and host communities with gender-based violence prevention and response, sexual and reproductive health and psychosocial support interventions.

In Amhara region alone, UNFPA life-saving sexual and reproductive health supplies and dignity kits have reached nearly 400,000 conflict-affected people and 28 health facilities with a budget amounting 559,000 USD. In Afar region, UNFPA provided sexual and reproductive health kits for 16 health facilities reaching out to more than 283,000 people, 20,000 Dignity Kits and one ambulance with the financial support of the Government of Denmark, the Ethiopian Humanitarian Fund (EHF) and the CERF Anticipatory Action Framework project.


I cannot think of a previous occasion when a UN Secretary General told a member state – to its face – that he didn’t believe it.

Yet that’s effectively what Antonio Guterres did on Wednesday. He challenged Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to provide evidence of UN staff wrongdoing.

“It is my duty to defend the honor of the United Nations,” Guterres told reporters after the rare public exchange with Ethiopia’s U.N. ambassador, Taye Atske Selassie Amde, at the end of the council meeting on the situation in the country.

“Twice, I asked … the prime minister. Until now, I had no response to these requests,” Guterres said. “The people of Ethiopia are suffering. We have no other interest but to help stop that suffering.”

Full report below, with another report on the stand of the European Union and a third on the current humanitarian situation.


Source: Reuters

U.N. chief takes on Ethiopia over expelled staff: show me proof

Ethiopian porters unload food aid bound for victims of war after a checkpoint leading to Tigray in Mai Tsebri town, Ethiopia June 26, 2021. Picture taken June 26, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 6 (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hit back at Ethiopia on Wednesday over the government’s expulsion of seven U.N. staff, demanding proof of accusations against them raised by Ethiopia’s U.N. ambassador during a Security Council meeting.

“It is my duty to defend the honor of the United Nations,” Guterres told reporters after the rare public exchange with Ethiopia’s U.N. ambassador, Taye Atske Selassie Amde, at the end of the council meeting on the situation in the country.

The Ethiopian government last week expelled seven senior U.N. officials for meddling in internal affairs. Selassie expanded on that on Wednesday, accusing the U.N. staff of making up data, falsely claiming hunger was used as a weapon of war and that people had died from hunger, and of supporting government foe – the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

“To use their own words, they were looking to create a Darfur-like situation,” said Selassie. “They, suddenly and overnight, created one million victims of health disaster.”

Guterres responded in the council, saying he had not seen any information from Ethiopia about these claims. He said he told Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed twice that if there were any concerns about the impartiality of U.N. staff then Abiy should share the information so Guterres could investigate.

“Twice, I asked … the prime minister. Until now, I had no response to these requests,” Guterres said. “The people of Ethiopia are suffering. We have no other interest but to help stop that suffering.”

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield described the Ethiopian move to expel the U.N. officials as “reckless,” adding: “There’s no justification for the government of Ethiopia’s action, none at all.”

“The U.N. is impartial. The U.N. is neutral,” she told the 15-member council. “U.N. personnel barred from Ethiopia must be allowed to return immediately.”


War broke out 11 months ago between Ethiopia’s federal troops and forces loyal to the TPLF, which controls Tigray. Thousands have died, millions have fled their homes and the conflict has spilled into neighboring Amhara and Afar.

Guterres said up to 7 million people in Tigray, Amhara and Afar need help, including 5 million in Tigray where some 400,000 people are estimated to be living in famine-like conditions.

“Our colleagues on the ground are sharing increasingly alarming eye-witness testimony of the suffering – including growing accounts of hunger-related deaths,” Guterres said earlier in the council meeting.

“In locations where screening has been possible, we are seeing acute malnutrition rates that remind us of the onset of the 2011 Somalia famine,” he said.

He called on the government to allow the urgent delivery of aid “without hindrance” and the “unrestricted movement of desperately needed fuel, cash, communications equipment and humanitarian supplies” into Tigray, Amhara and Afar.

“Ethiopian children are starving. People are dying because they cannot access food, water and basic health care. This is not a situation caused by natural disaster. It is caused by those who continue to choose the path of war,” Ireland’s U.N. Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason told the council.

Guterres urged the Security Council to back U.N. aid efforts. However, any strong action by the body – such as sanctions – is unlikely as Russia and China have made clear they believe the Tigray conflict is an internal affair for Ethiopia.

China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun on Wednesday called for “quiet diplomacy in order to prevent a deadlock” over the expulsion of the U.N. officials.

Source: Global News

EU Commissioner: Ethiopia’s Narrative ‘Dangerous’, Condemns Expulsion of UN Officials, Calls for Enhanced Collective Pressure

Globe News Net

The EU commissioner for international partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen condemned Ethiopia’s blockade on Tigray and the expulsion of 7 UN representatives who were mainly coordinating the humanitarian responses and engaged in the investigation into the atrocities in Tigray.

The commissioner in her speech at the European Parliament Plenary Debate on the Humanitarian Situation in Tigray On Tuesday, October 5, called on Europe for an ‘enhanced action and collective pressure for immediate and unhindered humanitarian access’.

Urpilainen said that the government of Ethiopia has sealed off Tigray making humanitarian aid delivery difficult while the needs are rising. The commissioner said that malnutrition in Tigray is raising and that to according to the commission’s estimates, closer to a million people in Tigray are now in famine condition.

In her speech, Urpilainen called Ethiopia’s governments narrative towards relief organizations “negative and dangerous”.

The commissioner concluded that Eu should press for respect of international humanitarian law are needed towards the Ethiopian authorities and all parties to the conflict for respect of international humanitarian law.

Beneath is the Full Textof the Commissioner’s Speech:

” It is since the beginning of the crisis last November that we have repeatedly raised our voice about the situation in Tigray.

The EU has been at the forefront of the diplomatic action and engaged with its Member States, likeminded-partners as well as Bretton-Wood Institutions to advocate for a concerted response. The EU has postponed budget support disbursements already last December.

Despite our and some other international actors’ efforts almost a year into the conflict, the situation does not improve. On the contrary, the tragic humanitarian crisis unfolding in Tigray is reaching dramatic levels and is increasingly posing considerable implications to the wider Horn of Africa.

Close to one year into the conflict, over 5 million people are in need of urgent assistance and 2.1 million people are displaced. The Famine Review Committee (FRC) predicted in June that there were 400,000 people at risk of famine. We believe this number is probably closer to 1 million people and we have now evidence that the number of malnourished children has dramatically increased.


No meaningful humanitarian aid in Tigray has reached the region since mid-July. While seventy-five percent of the Tigray territory is now accessible for the humanitarian staff and supplies that are already inside Tigray, the Ethiopian government has sealed off the region.

Humanitarian aid entering Tigray is anecdotal compared to the needs, while on another scale, needs are increasing in Amhara and Afar as the Tigray conflict spills over into these regions.

The operating conditions for humanitarians have deteriorated sharply in the past two months, with organisations running out of supplies, fuel and cash and suffering from severe administrative access impediments.

Furthermore, the narrative of the Ethiopian Government towards relief organisations is becoming increasingly negative and dangerous.

In a shocking move, seven senior UN officials were declared “Persona Non Grata” last week, having to leave Ethiopia within 72 hours. One of them is involved in the investigation on possible war crimes and human rights violations. Two major humanitarian organisations were suspended this summer.

The gap left behind is unbridgeable. This results in a climate of fear and self-censure of relief actors.

Faced with this situation, the EU continues supporting civilians affected by the conflict through our humanitarian response efforts. Our absolute priority now is pushing for access to ensure that significant humanitarian aid reaches all those in need.

Enhanced action and collective pressure for immediate and unhindered humanitarian access and for respect of international humanitarian law are needed towards the Ethiopian authorities and all parties to the conflict. Our discussions next week during the high-level geopolitical dialogue with the EP on future cooperation under NDICI are also part of these efforts.”

Source: The Guardian

Ethiopia is facing an ‘immense humanitarian crisis’, UN chief warns


 An aid worker screens a child for malnutrition in Adikeh, in the Wajirat district of the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia on 19 July, 2021. Photograph: Christine Nesbitt/AP
 and agencies

Ethiopia is facing an “immense humanitarian crisis” amid civil war and famine, United Nations secretary general António Guterres has warned.

The UN chief made the comments during an emergency meeting of the security council on Wednesday, calling for Addis Ababa to grant “unhindered” aid access, a week after the country expelled seven UN officials.

It is the second emergency meeting in a week to address the expulsion of seven UN officials from Ethiopia as conflict and famine-like conditions plague the north of the country.

The UN estimates conflict has driven 400,000 into famine-like conditions with up to seven million people in need of food assistance in regions such as Tigray, Amhara and Afar.

“The country is facing an immense humanitarian crisis that demands immediate attention,” Guterres said. “All efforts should be squarely focused on saving lives and avoiding a massive human tragedy.”

The secretary general described the decision by the Ethiopian government to expel seven senior UN officials – most of them humanitarian staff – as “particularly disturbing”.

“This unprecedented expulsion should be a matter of deep concern for us all as it relates to the core of relations between the UN and member states,” Guterres added.

He urged Ethiopian authorities to allow the UN to deliver humanitarian aid “without hindrance and to facilitate and enable our work with the urgency that this situation demands” and criticised the country for not following the procedures in place in case of problems with UN officials within countries.

US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, also called on the Ethiopian government, the TPLF, and regional militias to “end the fighting now, allow humanitarian access, and move toward a negotiated ceasefire immediately” in a series of tweets on Thursday.

The explusions of Unicef, UNOCHA, and UN human rights staff were “an affront to the security council, she said. “There is no justification for the Ethiopian government’s actions. None at all,” she added.

Officials from Ethiopia were due to take part in the UN meeting.

On Friday, the security council met to discuss the expulsion of officials who were accused of “meddling” in Ethiopia’s internal affairs and of political manipulation of humanitarian aid.

Following the 30 September decision, the UN wrote to the Ethiopian government, stating that declaring a staff member persona non grata, and demanding they leave the territory, is inconsistent with a country’s obligation under the UN charter.

In a letter seen by Agence France-Presse, the UN says it has not been given “any information” on the officials’ alleged actions.

A UN spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said on Tuesday that Ethiopia has not provided any additional information.

The meeting on Wednesday was requested by the United States, Ireland, Estonia, Norway, Britain and France.

On Friday, the security council could not agree on a statement proposed by Ireland due to opposition from China and Russia.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, an ambassador of a security council member state told AFP that “we should move on to political negotiations.”

The expulsions sent shockwaves through the UN, where such moves are rare.

The UN’s humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, whose recent statements about the “blocking” of humanitarian aid and a growing risk of famine could be behind the decision, dismissed the allegations against the UN as false at the security council meeting on Friday, but did not say what they were, another ambassador of a council member told AFP.

The ambassador also said that the expulsions in Ethiopia could set a dangerous precedent for conflicts in Myanmar or Afghanistan.

“If we don’t resolve the situation in Ethiopia, it could create a snowball effect,” the ambassador added.


Source: In the Blue

Tomorrow (6 October) afternoon, the Security Council will hold an open briefing on the situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, under the agenda item “Peace and Security in Africa”. Secretary-General António Guterres is expected to brief. The meeting was requested by Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway, the UK, and the US. A representative of the Ethiopian government is likely to participate.

Tomorrow’s meeting will be the tenth time that Council members have discussed the situation in Ethiopia since the crisis erupted in the Tigray region in November 2020. It will be the second Council meeting following the Ethiopian government’s 30 September announcement that seven UN officials from UNICEF, OCHA and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had been declared “persona non grata” and given 72 hours to leave Ethiopia. The Council discussed this development in a 1 October meeting under “any other business”, also at the request of Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway, the UK, and the US.

It seems that Ireland proposed a draft press statement following the 1 October meeting, but it did not garner the necessary support. The statement would have expressed Council members’ shock at the Ethiopian government’s announcement, reiterated their expectation of full cooperation between Ethiopia and the UN and called on all parties to allow unimpeded humanitarian access. However, it appears that the “A3 plus one” (Kenya, Niger, Tunisia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), China and Russia perceived the statement as unhelpful at a time in which Ethiopia and the UN needed to find a way forward.

Following the Ethiopian government’s announcement, the UN engaged with the Ethiopian authorities to persuade them to reverse the decision to expel the officials. As explained on 1 October by Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary‑General Farhan Haq, the UN’s legal position is that the doctrine of “persona non grata” applies to “diplomatic agents accredited by one state to another state” and not to UN officials. The UN has conveyed this position to the Ethiopian authorities, including through a 1 October note verbale from the UN Office of Legal Affairs and during a call the same day between Guterres and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Guterres also addressed a letter to the President of the Security Council in which he said that Ethiopia’s decision to expel the seven officials “creates yet another obstacle to reaching Ethiopians, at a moment when all efforts should be focused on working together to save and protect lives, protect human rights and avert a humanitarian catastrophe”. The letter further notes that “[a]ttempts to politicize humanitarian assistance” undermine the UN efforts to support the people of Ethiopia.

In a communiqué dated 1 October, the Ethiopian government urged the UN to “expeditiously replace” the seven officials. This request was reiterated in a 4 October tweet by Ethiopia’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Taye Atske Selassie. In the communiqué, the Ethiopian government accused the officials of “diversion of humanitarian assistance” to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and of “dissemination of misinformation and politicization of humanitarian assistance”. The UN has denied these accusations, with Haq stressing during a 4 October press briefing that the organisation stands by “the neutrality and the even‑handedness and professionalism” of its staff. At the same press briefing, he confirmed that none of the seven officials are currently in Ethiopia, some of them having already been outside the country when the government made the announcement, and the rest having been “moved from the country to ensure their safety”. In response to the question of whether the UN will replace the officials, Haq said that: “we believe that the staff that the Secretary‑General and the UN Secretariat have deployed are the people who are fit for the job, and we believe that they should be allowed to go about their work without hindrance”.

On 4 October, UK Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Simon Manley delivered a statement on behalf of over 40 states expressing shock at the Ethiopian decision and calling for its reversal to allow the officials to return to Ethiopia to continue their work. The statement notes that the OHCHR official who was expelled was working on the joint investigation by OHCHR and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission into alleged violations of human rights, humanitarian and refugee law committed by all parties to the conflict in Tigray. The report of the joint investigation is due by 1 November.

At tomorrow’s meeting, Guterres and several members are expected to underscore their serious concern at the expulsion of the seven UN officials. The meeting is also likely to focus on the worsening humanitarian and security conditions in northern Ethiopia. OCHA reported that as at 4 October, 5.2 million people in Tigray required food assistance, of whom 400,000 are living “in famine-like conditions”.

On 4 October, Ahmed was sworn in for a new five-year term following elections that were held in June and September. (Elections were reportedly boycotted by some opposition groups and did not take place in Tigray, which is controlled by forces opposed to the federal government.) According to media reports, Ahmed promised in his inauguration speech that he would shield the country from foreign interference. In addition, according to a 5 October Sky News article, “thousands of troops” were observed near the city of Dessie in the northern Ethiopian region of Amhara, giving rise to concerns of an imminent new offensive by the federal government.

At tomorrow’s meeting, Council members may emphasise the need for the government to begin sustained negotiations towards a ceasefire and a political solution to the conflict. They may underscore the need for an immediate ceasefire and renew their calls for unfettered humanitarian access.


Ethiopia: Investors in a Chinese-built industrial park in southern Ethiopia have hired international trade law firm Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg to push back against mounting calls to strip Addis Ababa of US trade preferences amid continuing violence in Tigray and beyond.

The firm is lobbying on “preserving AGOA eligibility for apparel from Ethiopia” on behalf of the Hawassa Industrial Park Investors Association, according to a new lobbying filing.

Lobbyists on the account include former Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.), a former member of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Nicole Bivens Collinson, a former assistant textile negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

The registration comes as critics of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed are lobbying to suspend Ethiopia’s eligibility under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. US Trade Representative Katherine Tai raised the possibility in a virtual meeting with Ethiopian chief trade negotiator Mamo Mihretu this summer.


Eritrean families – many of whom have lived quiet lives in Libya for years hoping to finally reach Europe – have been rounded up in a huge “anti-drugs” raid.

Eritrean Refugees Arrested Libya

Eritrean refugees arrested Libya

statement from Dax Roque, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Libya Country Director, highlighted their plight.

“We are alarmed by reports of mass arrests of migrants in Tripoli this morning. We are hearing that more than 500 migrants, including women and children, have been rounded up, arbitrarily detained and are at risk of abuse and ill-treatment.

Migrants and refugees in Libya, particularly those without legal residency in the country, are often at risk of arbitrary detention. Torture, sexual violence, and extortion is rampant in Libyan detention centres. We believe this latest wave of arrests is part of wider crackdown by the Libyan authorities on migrants and refugees in Libya and the environment is becoming increasingly more restrictive.

We call on the Libyan authorities to immediately release those detained and to end the crackdown on migrants and refugees taking place across the country. Countries with ties to Libya, particularly European states must also scale up pathways for resettlement of refugees in Libya.”

As many as 4,000 are reported under arrest

RFI (Radio France International) carried this report.

Eritrean refugees arrested Libya

In Libya, a vast anti-drug operation was carried out on Friday October 1 in Tripoli. Libyan police arrested large numbers of migrants on the outskirts of the capital. In a statement, the Attorney General explains that these people are suspected of being involved in trafficking “drugs, alcohol and firearms.” The NGO Norwegian Refugee Council denounces an operation which aims above all to arrest migrants and refugees.

The head of the transitional government, Abdelhamid Dbeibah, greeted on Twitter “the heroes of the Ministry of the Interior” after this police operation.

”  This is among the largest arrests of migrants that we have seen in Libya in recent years,  ” reports Dax Roque, director of the Norwegian refugee council in Libya, reached by phone by  Gaëlle Laleix , of the Africa editorial staff: nearly 4,000 migrants have been arrested for the past two days in Libya.

“  Among those arrested, there are already registered refugees. We also know that there are women, some of whom are pregnant, and children. Images circulated on social media of dozens of people, hands tied, being taken away. This is not the first time that Libya has arrested a significant number of migrants. Throughout the year, refugees are held in detention centers. And it should be noted that their conditions of confinement are deplorable: the centers are overcrowded and unsanitary. 

We therefore call on the Libyan authorities to release the detained migrants. And we also call on countries, especially European countries which have close relations with Libya, to raise their voice on this issue because we all know that the situation of refugees in Libya has been worrying for too long.  

► At  the ire as :  “I want to leave” in Libya, the cruel treatment of migrants

Since the fall of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the country has become a preferred route for tens of thousands of migrants seeking to reach Europe. Libya has also become a living hell for the candidates for exile. Testimonies of torture, forced labor, beatings, and rape in official detention centers are plentiful. Last June, the NGO Médecins sans frontières thus decided to leave the migrant detention centers of al-Mabani and Abu Salim, in Tripoli, denouncing an “unbearable” situation.

Eritrean Refugees Arrested Libya

The UN and human rights groups have warned that fighting has hampered food security in Tigray with a real risk of famine (file photo).
Ethiopian News Agency (Addis Ababa)

Addis Ababa — Ministry of Foreign Affairs has declared seven individuals working for various international NGOs "persona non grata" and ordered them to leave the country in 72 hours.

In letters issued to the individuals today, the ministry has declared the seven individuals listed below "persona non grata" for meddling in the internal affairs of the country.

According to the letters addressed to each individuals listed below, all of them must leave the territory of Ethiopia within the next 72 hours.

1. Mr. Adele Khodr, UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia.

2. Mr. Sonny Onyegbula, Monitoring, Reporting and Advocacy Team Leader: United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights.

3. Mr. Kwesi Sansculotte, Peace and Development Advisor: UNOCHA

4. Mr. Saeed Mohamoud Hersi: Deputy Head of Office: Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Ethiopia.

5. Mr. Grant Leaity, Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator: Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Ethiopia.

6. Mrs. Ghada Eltahir Mudawi: Acting Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator: Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Ethiopia.

7. Mrs. Marcy Vigoda, Head of office: Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Ethiopia

Read the original article on ENA.

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