ETHIOPIA EXPELS SENIOR UN STAFF AMIDST ‘AID BLOCKADE’ ALLEGATIONS
GCR2P 2021/10/06 20:53
Atrocity Alert is a weekly publication by the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect highlighting situations where populations are at risk of or are enduring, mass atrocity crimes.
“On 30 September Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared seven senior UN staff “persona non grata” for allegedly “meddling” in the country’s internal affairs. Affected staff include those responsible for the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid to the war-torn Tigray region. The expelled UN staff also include individuals from the UN Children’s Fund as well as from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who are working with the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission on a joint investigation into atrocities in Tigray.
The expulsions are happening as 7 million people are in urgent need of aid in Tigray, Amhara and Afar regions. The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, recently criticized what the UN calls a “de facto aid blockade” by the federal government on the Tigray region, where 5.2 million require assistance and are facing starvation. Griffiths stressed that the failure to deliver adequate aid was a “stain on our conscience,” drawing parallels to the past famine in Somalia that killed more than a million people.
The alleged aid blockade also extends to fuel and medical supplies, preventing their delivery since late July. While the government has accused Tigrayan rebel forces of blocking aid, some humanitarian organizations have reported that bureaucratic obstacles imposed by the federal authorities are preventing essential supplies from getting to starving civilians. The government has also accused international aid agencies of secretly supporting Tigrayan forces. Griffiths has denounced these statements as “unfair and unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, the war in Tigray – which has raged for almost a year – continues to spread. As Tigrayan forces have advanced into the neighbouring Amhara region, there have been recurring reports of massacres, widespread civilian displacement and the looting of aid convoys.
Blocking humanitarian assistance may amount to a war crime and crime against humanity under international law. The Global Centre’s Communications and Digital Media Officer, Sarah Hunter, said that, “as the humanitarian catastrophe in northern Ethiopia continues to deteriorate, it is essential that all parties agree to an urgent and unconditional ceasefire and the free flow of aid. The lives of millions of starving civilians depend upon it.”
The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P) is an independent organisation that focuses on conducting research, analysis and advocacy in relation to mass atrocity.
Violence, war crimes, and crimes against humanity can occur practically everywhere, as history and current events around the world illustrate. In armed conflict situations, the bulk of minority groups face challenges that are caused by alienation based on race, ethnicity, refugee status, places of origin, political and religious affiliation, and other variables. As seen in the GCR2P atrocity alert, vulnerable populations confront a variety of difficulties; human rights breaches and neglect, compounded by bad leadership, are among them. Acts that can be defined as “slow genocide” are part of these realities. Appointing R2P officials in charge of human rights promotion and protection, as well as humanitarian response, can assist governments and regions in preventing genocide and other mass atrocities.