Authorities in Ethiopia expelled seven UN representatives from the country on September 25, on charges of “interfering in the internal affairs of the country”. These include the local representative of UNICEF, the local consultant of the Office for Humanitarian Affairs and five officials involved in the aid distribution program in the Tigray region.
The expulsion comes in the context of the growing climate of political tension within the country, characterized by the adoption by the governing forces of the Prosperity Party of an increasingly pronounced anti-Western narrative.
Abiy Ahmed’s government bluntly accuses the United States, the Europeans and the United Nations of supporting Tigrinya’s TPLF forces, both through an internationally orchestrated media campaign and through material aid provided on the ground by what it considers infiltrators within the ranks of UN organizations and humanitarian NGOs.
A narrative now widely spread, which has exacerbated the tone of public debate on the conflict in Tigray and the contextual protests in several regional states of the country, increasingly isolating the government in Addis Ababa at the international level.
The same narrative, identical in tone and language, is fed by Eritrea through the Ministry of Information and the network of social identities it controls on the main web-based platforms, offering the picture of the continuity in the full alignment of Addis Ababa and Asmara.
According to the main press outlets close to the Ethiopian government, on the other hand, the United Nations would have been repeatedly warned of the suspicious conduct of their officials engaged in the country, calling for their replacement on several occasions. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in particular, would have notified several days in advance the intention to expel the officials, asking for a quick replacement able to avoid the clamor of the expulsion.
The main crimes charged to the seven UN officials are related to the violation of the Memorandum of Agreement between the United Nations and Ethiopia of November 2020, and in particular the delivery of communications equipment to the forces of the TPLF – considered by the government as a terrorist organization – in the diversion of food and medical aid for the exclusive benefit of the same organization and, not least, as a result of the reticence shown in the issue of the theft by the Tigrinya of over 400 vehicles used for the distribution of humanitarian aid, and then adapted to move their troops.
According to the Ethiopian press, the case would have emerged thanks to the information transmitted by a member of the UN itself, which would have denounced the illegal behavior of officials demonstrating the violation of the commitments of neutrality and impartiality.