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Biden administration condemns Ethiopia's expulsion of UN officials, warns of sanctions

Saturday October 2, 2021

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 29, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Nairobi (HOL) - The United States has condemned a recent move by the Ethiopian government to kick out United Nations officials accusing them of meddling in their internal affairs.

In a statement, the US said that it would use sanctions against those who obstruct efforts to improve people's lives and give aid in Ethiopia, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters this week.

"The US government condemns in the strongest possible terms the government of Ethiopia's unprecedented action to expel the leadership of all of the United Nations organizations involved in ongoing humanitarian operations," Psaki told reporters at a regular news briefing.

On Thursday, September 28, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ethiopia announced that it had expelled seven senior UN officials.

The move came after the UN informed Ethiopian citizens who live in the Northern region of Tigray that they were being affected by famine because the government was blocking aid.

The Northern region, home to over five million people, has been one of the primary battlefronts in the Ethiopian civil war.

Already the UN, through its chief Antonio Guterres, announced that it was shocked by the announcement to have its officials kicked out of Ethiopia.

"UN operations in Ethiopia are guided by the core principles on humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence," the statement read in part.

"In Ethiopia, the UN delivers lifesaving aid which includes; food, medicine, water and sanitation supplies- to people in desperate need. I have full confidence in the UN staff who are in Ethiopia doing this work," Guterres further stated.

He revealed that already talks were underway to have the Ethiopian government re-think the decision to kick UN staff from its territory.

The conflict has forced over two million Ethiopians to flee their homes since fighting began in November.



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