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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.

Go deeper

Nov 24, 2021 - Podcasts

Escalating war in Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed — a Nobel Peace Prize-winning politician — has said he’ll lead troops who are fighting rebels from the Tigray region of the country in what he’s calling "the final fight" to save Ethopia. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is warning of a potential humanitarian crisis there that could destabilize the entire region.

  • Plus, the rise of vegan Thanksgiving.
  • And, the story of the first Thanksgiving - 1200 miles south of Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Guests: Axios' Zach Basu, Ben Montgomery and Russell Contreras.

Credits: Axios Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Julia Redpath, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Alex Sugiura, Sabeena Singhani, Lydia McMullen-Laird, David Toledo and Jayk Cherry. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at podcasts@axios.com. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

Go deeper:

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.