Ethiopia warns UN staff of penalties if they break law

Ethiopia warns UN staff of penalties if they break law
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United Nations and African Union staffers in Ethiopia were told by the government on Thursday that they do not live "in space" and warned that they will be reprimanded for any laws that they break amid the country's ongoing civil war.

"U.N. staff who reside in Ethiopia should respect the law of the country," foreign ministry spokesman Dina Mufti said, according to Reuters. "They live in Ethiopia, not in space. Whether it is a U.N. or AU staff member, they shall be held accountable."

The spokesperson also confirmed that the government would not consider a cease-fire with the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and its forces in the Amhara and Afar regions. He called for the TPLF would need to recognize the government’s legitimacy and stop their attacks prior to any cease-fire agreements, Reuters reported. 

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Ethiopia declared a state of emergency on Nov. 2 after rebel forces from the region of Tigray made gains on certain territories and threatened to march on Ethiopia’s capital of Addis Ababa.

Hundreds of Tigrayans, along with 16 U.N. staff members, seven of whom have since been released, were arrested in the capital city. Authorities have said that the arrests did not have racial motivations.

Fana, which is Ethiopian state-affiliated media, reported that the Ethiopian military drove back attacks by Tigrayan forces near Kemise in the Amhara region and in Mille in the Afar region, Reuters added.

Two diplomatic sources also told Reuters on Thursday that the European Union intended to evacuate its nonessential staff from Ethiopia.

Also on Thursday, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reported that internal displacement, especially in Africa, has impacted 51 million people, including 1.2 million people in Ethiopia.