Ethiopia has no legal right to expel seven UN officials, says UN

Ethiopia has no legal right to expel seven UN officials, says UN
The UN has challenged Ethiopia's decision to expel seven of its officials for 'meddling' in the country's affairs, saying it has no legal right to do so.
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Ethiopia announced the expulsion of seven UN officials on Thursday, giving them 72 hours to leave [source: Getty]

The United Nations informed Ethiopia on Friday that it has no legal right to expel seven UN officials whom it accused of “meddling” in the country’s affairs.

UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said a diplomatic note sent to Ethiopia’s UN Mission and conveyed to Ethiopian President Abiy Ahmed during a phone call with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated the UN’s “longstanding legal position” that the doctrine of declaring someone “persona non grata” - or unwelcome - does not apply to UN personnel.

The doctrine of declaring someone persona non grata applies between states, he said. “We are not a state.”

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Ethiopia announced the expulsions on Thursday, giving seven officials 72 hours to leave, as pressure grows on the government over its deadly blockade of the Tigray region.

The announcement appeared to be the government’s most dramatic move yet to restrict humanitarian access to the region of 6 million people after nearly a year of war.

The UN has become increasingly outspoken as the flow of medical supplies, food and fuel has been brought to a near-halt.