Ethiopia to expel UN officials over famine fears in Tigray – .

Ethiopia to expel UN officials over famine fears in Tigray – .

The group, which includes officials from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), has 72 hours to leave the country.

Earlier this month, UNOCHA said there was a “de facto blockade of humanitarian aid” in the war-torn region of Tigray, where at least 400,000 people face starvation, according to the latest figures from the agency.

Since July, only 606 trucks carrying humanitarian supplies have made it into Tigray – a small fraction of what is needed to deliver humanitarian aid to 5.2 million people, according to UNOCHA.

The UN estimates that 100 trucks a day are needed to meet demand. Medical supplies continue to be denied entry to the region by the Ethiopian government, according to the UN.

The UN cited “logistical and bureaucratic obstacles, including long delays in clearing humanitarian supplies”, severe fuel shortages and harassment of drivers as reasons for restricting passage.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres responded to threats of deportation on Thursday, saying he was “shocked” by the decision and that the global body was working to keep staff in the country, in a statement read by a spokesperson.

“I have full confidence in the UN staff who are in Ethiopia to do this work. The UN is committed to helping the Ethiopian people who depend on humanitarian aid. We now engage with the Ethiopian government in the hope that the relevant UN personnel will be allowed to continue their important work.

The move follows scathing comments earlier this week about the Ethiopian government’s role in the humanitarian crisis by UN aid chief Martin Griffiths. “This is man-made, it can be corrected by the act of government,” he said, Reuters reported.

“We need the Ethiopian government to do what it has promised to do, which is to facilitate access,” he added.

The Ethiopian government has repeatedly rejected allegations that it was blocking aid.

The Foreign Ministry, UNICEF and UNOCHA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

CNN’s Caitlin Hu contributed reporting from New York.


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