UN evacuates staffers' dependents from Ethiopia

by IANS |

United Nations, Nov 24 (IANS) The US is evacuating the dependents of staff members from Ethiopia because of the ensuing violence, a spokesman said.

"Given the security situation in the country, and out of an abundance of caution, the UN has decided to reduce its footprint in the country by temporarily relocating all eligible dependents," Xinhua news agency quoted Stephane Dujarric, the chief spokesman for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, as saying.

"We are looking at about probably a few hundred eligible dependents," he said.

However, Dujarric said that staff would remain in Ethiopia to carry out assignments.

"We will monitor the situation as it evolves, keeping in mind the safety of our staff and the need to continue to stand and deliver and to continue our operations and support all the people that need our assistance," he told a regular press briefing.

Northern Ethiopia has been wracked with hostilities since violence broke out a year ago in the northernmost Tigray region.

It has since spread to Afar, to the east, and Amhara, to the south.

Dujarric has described the security situation in the area as "volatile and highly unpredictable".

Several members of the world body's national staff were detained in Addis Ababa by the government.

More than 70 truck drivers under contract to carry humanitarian aid also were held.

All the drivers and some UN staff members were released last week. But one staff member and one dependent were detained on November 19, according to the spokesman.

Five UN staffers and two dependents still remain in custody.

Published reports said the government was detaining ethnic Tigrayans.

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