US condemns Ethiopian expulsion of UN staff
The White House on Thursday condemned "in the strongest possible terms" Ethiopia's decision to expel senior UN officials at a time of looming humanitarian crisis and warned of sanctions.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki called Ethiopia's move an "unprecedented action to expel the leadership of all of the United Nations organisations involved in ongoing humanitarian operations."
The United States "will not hesitate" to impose sanctions against "those who obstruct humanitarian assistance," she warned.
The expulsions have ratcheted up worries over the humanitarian response in Tigray, which has been mired in conflict since November.
The seven UN officials, including the local heads of the UN children's agency UNICEF and its humanitarian coordination office, have been declared "persona non grata" for "meddling in the internal affairs of the country," Ethiopia's foreign ministry said in a statement.
Earlier in September, US President Joe Biden signed an executive order allowing for sanctions against the warring parties in northern Ethiopia if they fail to commit to a negotiated settlement.
The order authorises the Treasury Department to sanction the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), among other parties.