UN urges for immediate release of detained staffers in Ethiopia

APA-Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)

The United Nations is appealing to the Ethiopian government for the immediate release of an unprecedented number of detained staffers and contract aid truckers, a UN spokesman said on Thursday.

"We continue to actively engage with the government to try to undo this situation," said Stephane Dujarric, the chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. "We want to see our colleagues released as quickly as possible. We want to see those contractors who have been hired by the United Nations and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) also freed as quickly as possible."

As of Thursday, at least nine UN staff members and more than 70 truck drivers remained in detention, he said.

"From our standpoint, they are Ethiopians, our colleagues, they are staff members, regardless of what ethnicity might be listed on their national identity cards and they need to be released," said Dujarric.

The spokesman said security concerns hamper the delivery of humanitarian aid. Electricity and telecommunications were cut in Dessie and Kombolcha in Amhara on Oct 30. Some 915,000 people have received food assistance, and nearly 160,000 have received shelter and other items since August.

Dujarric said fuel and cash shortages significantly affect the ability of the United Nations and its partners to transport supplies, including food.

Throughout the country, humanitarian operations face a funding gap of $1.3 billion, including $350 million for the response in Tigray alone, he said.


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