U.N email discloses detention of U.N drivers by Ethiopian authorities amid reports of arrests of rebellious group members in Addis Ababa.
Ethiopian authorities have locked up more than 70 drivers working with the United Nations, an internal U.N. email seen by Reuters said, following reports of rampant arrests of ethnic Tigrayans. The ethnicity of the drivers is not clear yet.
On Tuesday, a U.N spokesperson said at least 16 U.N staff and dependents had been detained in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. The drivers were in addition to a number of detained staff.
The email said: “We confirm that 72 outsourced drivers contracted by WFP (World Food Programme) have been detained in Semera,’’ a U.N. spokeswoman told Reuters, referring to the capital city of the northeastern region of Afar.
“We are liaising with the Government of Ethiopia to understand the reasons behind their detention.’’
Spokesperson for the government of Ethiopia Legesse Tulu and foreign affairs ministry spokesperson Dina Mufti did not instantly respond to an invitation for remarks on the detention of the drivers. When quizzed about the arrest of U.N. contractors such as drivers on Tuesdays, a U.N spokesman in New York said it was investigating.
The head of the state-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said on Tuesday they had gotten hundreds of reports of Tigrayans being arrested in Addis Ababa. Police have denied making ethnically driven arrests, saying they are only in pursuit of backers of the defiant Tigrayan forces rebelling the central government.
War broke out in 2020 between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), who used to oversee the ruling coalition in the country.
Featured Image Source: Reuters