Sat. Nov 27th, 2021

Ireland’s ambassador and one other diplomat said they could stay, but the others had to leave, the government said.

The Irish government has said Ethiopia has told four of Ireland’s six diplomats serving at its embassy in Addis Ababa to leave the country by next week.

Ireland’s ambassador and one other diplomat were told earlier this week that they could stay, but the others had to leave, a statement said on Wednesday.

“I very much regret this decision by the Government of Ethiopia,” said Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, adding that he hopes the move is temporary.

There were no immediate comments from Ethiopian officials.

Coveney defended Ireland’s position on the ongoing conflict between the government and Tigrayan forces, saying it was in line with that of other bodies, including the European Union.

Ireland was a signatory to a November 5 statement by the United Nations Security Council calling for a ceasefire over the escalation of fighting in the north of the country.

The Irish government has said it reflects calls from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the need for full humanitarian access, an end to hostilities and political dialogue.

The Irish embassy in Addis Ababa was not closed and the two remaining diplomats continued to work with bodies including the African Union.

“Ireland fully supports the role of the African Union in seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict, including through the work of its Special Envoy, former Nigerian President Olesegun Obasanjo,” Coveney said. “We are committed to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ethiopia.”

The announcement came less than two months after the Ethiopian government ordered seven seniors UN officials Leaving Ethiopia and accusing them of “interfering” in its internal affairs.

The seven officials, who included individuals from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), were declared “persona non grata” and given 72 hours to leave the country. .

Fighting in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region has been raging since November 2020 between federal forces and those in line with them.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to Tigray in November 2020 to remove the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) after months of tension with the ruling party of the northern region, which has dominated national politics for three decades.

The winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize promised a quick victory, but by the end of June, the Tigrayan forces regrouped and recaptured most of Tigray, including its capital, Mekelle.

Since then, Tigrayan forces have infiltrated neighboring Afar and Amhara regions and this week claimed control of Shewa Robit, just 220 km (135 miles) northeast of Addis Ababa by road. The Tigrayan forces and their allies threatened to march on the capital, Addis Ababa. They also fought to try to cut a transport corridor connecting Ethiopia, which is bordered by the country, with the region’s main port Djibouti.

Ethiopian state media reported Wednesday that Abiy went to the front lines to personally direct the war effort.

“The time has come to lead the country with sacrifice,” Abiy said in a Twitter post late Monday. “Those who want to be among the Ethiopian children who will be honored by history, stand up for your country today. Let’s meet at the battle front. “

Thousands of people died in the brutal conflict marked by gang rapes, mass evictions and the destruction of medical centers.

The prospect of the country breaking apart has upset both Ethiopians and observers who fear what will happen to the often turbulent region in general. Several countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Turkey have told their citizens to leave immediately.

Ireland currently recommends against all travel to Ethiopia and that Irish citizens should leave the country immediately in a commercial manner.

Ireland has had a diplomatic presence in Ethiopia since 1994 and has funded $ 185 million in state aid over the past five years.

In the coming weeks, Irish Aid will pay out $ 18 million to partners operating in Ethiopia, including the United Nations humanitarian organizations.

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