Ethiopia detains UN staffers, accuses them of 'terror act'
Ethiopia’s government says several U.N. employees were detained in the capital because of “their participation in terror” under the new state of emergency as tensions escalate in the East African country.
The United Nations said Tuesday that at least 16 of its local employees were being held in Addis Ababa.
The U.N. said it was given no reason for the detentions, but ethnic Tigrayans, including lawyers, have reported widespread detentions in Addis Ababa since the state of emergency was declared, saying people are being picked up on the basis of their ethnicity alone.
Ethiopian government spokesman Legesse Tulu in a message to the AP said the detentions occurred “because of their wrongdoing and their participation in terror act," without giving details. “It has no any connection with their office and job.”
The Ethiopian government has said it's detaining people suspected of supporting the rival Tigray forces who have been fighting Ethiopia's government for the past year.
Ethiopia's government last month expelled seven U.N. staffers from the country, accusing them of falsely inflating the scale of the crisis.
Envoys from the African Union are trying to encourage an immediate cease-fire by Ethiopia's government and the Tigray forces who long dominated the national government before Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power.
Thousands of people have been killed in the yearlong war, thousands have been detained and millions have been displaced. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people in the Tigray region face famine conditions under a government blockade meant to deny food, medicine and other aid from potentially reaching Tigray forces.
On Sunday, tens of thousands of residents of the capital gathered in support of the government and pledged to fight the insurgents. Some protesters chanted slogans condemning the US government for not condemning the insurgents and merely calling for a ceasefire.