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Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa in June 2021. Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Ethiopia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday it will expel seven United Nations officials after a senior UN official warned that thousands of people in war-torn Tigray were likely experiencing government-caused famine, according to Reuters.

Why it matters: The ministry accused the seven officials, including the head of the UN's Children's Fund and the head of its Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Office, of "meddling" in internal affairs and said they have 72 hours to leave the country.

Conditions in Tigray have greatly deteriorated since fighting broke out between Ethiopia's government and forces aligned with the Tigray People's Liberation Front around 10 months ago.

  • Thousands have died throughout the conflict and millions have been displaced.

What they're saying: On Tuesday, the UN's aid chief Martin Griffiths heavily criticized Ethiopia's government for intentionally restricting aid to the region in an interview with Reuters.

  • "We predicted that there were 400,000 people in famine-like conditions, at risk of famine, and the supposition was that if no aid got to them adequately they would slip into famine," Griffiths said, referring to a UN assessment from June.
  • "I have to assume that something like that is happening," he added.

The latest: “The U.S. 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,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing Thursday.

  • "We’re deeply concerned that this action continues pattern by the Ethiopian Ethiopian government of restricting the delivery of food, medicine and other life saving supplies that most to those most in need," Psaki added.

The other side: Ethiopia's UN delegation said that the UN's claims of a blockade were "baseless" and that aid wasn't reaching the region because of a shortage of trucks and fuel, according to Reuters.

  • However, the UN has reported that drivers going into Tigray have twice been shot at and that others have been arrested in neighboring regions.

The big picture: The Biden administration threatened earlier this month to impose new sanctions on Ethiopian officials "responsible for, or complicit in, prolonging the conflict" in the Tigray region.

Go deeper: Tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia escalate over war in Tigray

Editor’s note: This post was updated to add comments from White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 10, 2021 - World

Taliban: U.S. will give humanitarian aid but withhold recognition

Displaced children are seen at Herat Refugee Camp in Herat on Sept. 16. Photo: Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The U.S. will send humanitarian aid to Afghanistan even as the Biden administration continues to withhold formal recognition of the Taliban, the group's leaders announced on Sunday, AP reports.

Of note: State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in an emailed statement that the two sides discussed the U.S. providing "robust humanitarian assistance, directly to the Afghan people" during talks in Qatar that concluded Sunday.

Fintech's record year

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Massive venture rounds into fintech companies have ballooned this year, pushing up total dollars invested — in just the first three quarters of 2021 — to nearly double the amount in all of 2020, per new PitchBook data.

Why it matters: The maturing of fintech startups means a growing number of companies are able to raise huge later-stage funding rounds as investors look to lock-in their bets.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Democrats' clean power outlook is very muddy

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Here are two big questions as a key Democratic proposal to slash emissions from power generation flounders: how much its demise would sap climate protections, and what might replace it.

Catch up fast: New financial carrots and sticks for utilities to deploy zero-carbon power — the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) — look unlikely to stay in Democrats' big social spending and climate bill.