United Nations staffers and dependents have been detained in Ethiopia, United Nations (U.N.) spokeswoman Stephane Dujarric said Tuesday during a press conference in New York.
The spokeswoman said at least 16 U.N. staffers and dependents were detained in the capital Addis Ababa amid reports of mass arrests of Tigrayans, Reuters reported.
When asked the ethnicities of those detained, Dujarri said the U.N. is speaking with the government to get everyone released, regardless of ethnicity.
"These are United Nations staff members, they're Ethiopians ... and we would like to see them released, whatever ethnicity is listed on their identity cards," Dujarric said.
Daniel Bekele, head of the state-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, told Reuters that "the arrests of hundreds of Tigrayans in Addis Ababa" is being monitored, while the Addis Ababa police told the outlet they are not targeting Tigrayans.
"Those that have been detained are Ethiopians who violate the law," Ethiopian government spokesman Legesse Tulu told Reuters, noting they had no information about the arrested U.N. workers.
The U.N. had previously accused the government of preventing humanitarian aid to the country, with Ethiopia denying the accusation.
The arrests come as tensions continue in the Ethiopian civil war, with the U.S. ordering all nonemergency officials out of the country last week.
Many countries asked their citizens to leave Ethiopia after the government declared a state of emergency on Nov. 2 as rebel forces were getting closer to the capital city.