Nov 9, 2021 - World

UN says 16 staffers detained in Ethiopia

Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF) soldiers

Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF) soldiers training in September. Photo: Amanuel Sileshi/AFP via Getty Images

Sixteen United Nations staff members and some dependents are detained in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, while another six have been released, UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric confirmed at a press briefing Tuesday afternoon.

Driving the news: The yearlong fight between government and opposition forces has intensified in recent weeks. Last week, Ethiopia declared a state of emergency as rival forces from the northern region of Tigray moved toward the capital.

Details: During the Q&A session, Dujarric confirmed that 22 national staff had been detained, with six since released, leaving 16 in detention.

  • "There are also, we understand, a number of dependents that have been detained," he added.
  • Dujarric noted that these numbers are the most detailed figures currently available, as the U.N. also confronts communication challenges.
  • Officials from the UN Department for Safety and Security, as well as UN security officers, have visited the detained staff, a U.N. spokesperson confirmed to Axios earlier Tuesday.
  • The UN has also submitted formal requests to Ethiopia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs asking for their immediate release, they said.

Of note: In September, Ethiopia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it would expel seven UN officials for "meddling" in the country's affairs after one U.N. official warned that people in the war-torn Tigray were likely experiencing government-caused famine.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new details throughout.

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