The US condemned Ethiopia on Thursday for expelling seven UN officials for allegedly meddling in internal affairs and urged the international community to take action.
“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,” said White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki at a news conference.
“We agree with UN leaders. This is a stain on our collective conscience and it must stop,” she added.
Earlier, Ethiopia ordered the UN officials to leave the country within 72 hours.
According to a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, staffers from different UN organizations have been declared “persona non grata” for “meddling in the internal affairs” of the nation.
The statement did not provide further details but the declaration was made in connection with the agencies’ operations in Ethiopia’s northernmost region of Tigray.
A region of 5.5 million people, Tigray came under intense international spotlight after an armed conflict began between the federal government and forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
The White House spokeswoman said the expulsions came amid reports that warn that thousands of people are starving to death in northern Ethiopia.
“We are deeply concerned that this action continues a pattern by the Ethiopian government of restricting the delivery of food, medicine, and other life-saving supplies to those most in need,” she said.
Psaki also urged the UN Security Council and members of the international community to take urgent action to make clear to the government of Ethiopia that impeding humanitarian operations and depriving its citizens of the basic means of survival is unacceptable.