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Photo: John Minchillo - Pool/Getty Images

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres denounced Ethiopian officials Wednesday for claiming the UN had inflated the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis in the country and warned people were facing "famine-like conditions."

Why it matters: The Ethiopian foreign affairs ministry expelled seven UN officials from the country last week, accusing them of "meddling" in its affairs by warning thousands of people in war-torn Tigray were likely experiencing government-caused famine.

Driving the news: Taye Atske Selassie Amde, Ethiopia's ambassador to the UN, accused the organization at the end of its council meeting Wednesday of exaggerating the number of people in need by over 1 million and making false claims about the hunger crisis, including dozens of displaced people dying in a camp, AP notes.

  • He also accused UN officials of supporting the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front in the ongoing war with the government.

What they're saying: Guterres told reporters that he had twice asked Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to share any concerns about the UN's impartiality with him so he could investigate, per Reuters.

  • "Until now, I had no response to these requests," the UN secretary-general said, calling on the government to provide documentation of their allegations against the United Nations.
  • "The people of Ethiopia are suffering. We have no other interest but to help stop that suffering," he added.

Threat level: Guterres highlighted at the Security Council meeting the difficulty in delivering humanitarian aid to the regions most affected by the conflict, saying "movements are being severely restricted by official and unofficial checkpoints ... and other obstacles."

  • "Humanitarian aid is still not reaching the area at anywhere close to the levels needed," Guterres said.
  • "The country is facing an immense humanitarian crisis that demands immediate attention," he added. "All efforts should be squarely focused on saving lives and avoiding a massive human tragedy."

Of note: Guterres called on Ethiopian authorities to allow the UN to help with humanitarian efforts "without hindrance and to facilitate and enable our work with the urgency that this situation demands."

  • Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, said at the Security Council meeting that the Ethiopian government should let the United Nations officials back in, calling their expulsion "reckless."

The big picture: Hundreds of thousands of people are facing famine conditions in Tigray. Still, less than 10% of the needed humanitarian supplies have reached the region over the last month, Axios' Oriana Gonzalez writes.

  • The Biden administration threatened last month to impose new sanctions on Ethiopian officials "responsible for, or complicit in, prolonging the conflict" in the Tigray region.

Go deeper

Kenyan president visits White House amid corruption claims

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta visits the White House in 2014. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

President Biden will announce Thursday during a visit by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to the White House that the U.S. will donate an additional 17 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the African Union.

Why it matters: Biden is belatedly seeking to bolster U.S. engagement with the region, which has been a low priority as the administration goes all in on countering China in the Indo-Pacific. But Biden's choice for the first African leader to visit his White House has raised some eyebrows.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
54 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Key clean power provision likely won't survive in Dems' spending bill

A construction worker walks along a dirt road at the Avangrid Renewables La Joya wind farm in Encino, New Mexico, on Aug. 5, 2020. Photo: Cate Dingley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A pillar of Democrats' plans to speed deployment of zero-carbon electricity is likely to be cut from major spending and tax legislation they are struggling to move on a party-line vote, per multiple reports and a Capitol Hill aide.

Driving the news: The New York Times, citing anonymous congressional aides and lobbyists, reports that West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) has told the White House he "strongly opposes" the Clean Electricity Performance Program.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Fatal stabbing of British MP David Amess declared a terrorist incident

Police outside Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, England, on Oct. 15. Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images

Authorities have declared the death of David Amess a terrorist incident, hours after the Conservative Party lawmaker in the U.K. was fatally stabbed while meeting with local constituents in a church in eastern England on Friday.

The big picture: The Metropolitan Police has found "a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism."