Ethiopia expels Irish diplomats over Ireland’s stance on war

LONDON (AP) – Ethiopia has ordered four of six Irish diplomats working in Addis Ababa to leave the country because of Ireland’s outspoken stance over the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia, Ireland‘s government said Wednesday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said Ethiopia‘s government informed the Irish Embassy in the Ethiopian capital that the four must leave within one week. The Irish ambassador and one other diplomat were allowed to stay.

In a statement, the department said that Ethiopian authorities indicated this was “due to the positions Ireland has articulated internationally, including at the U.N. Security Council, on the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said he “deeply regretted” the decision, and noted that Ethiopia has been the largest recipient of Ireland’s aid funds in the past five years.

He added that in light of the deteriorating security situation in Ethiopia, the government recommended against all travel to the country and all Irish citizens there should leave immediately. Britain’s government issued a similar statement Wednesday, urging Britons to leave while commercial flights were still available and the international airport at Addis Ababa remained open.

Ireland and African members of the U.N. Security Council led a statement on Nov. 5 calling for a cease-fire, stressing the importance of full humanitarian access to Tigray and political dialogue between parties.

Coveney has said he supports the U.S. sanctioning of individuals over the war, and Ireland has also warned at the Security Council that the “horror of starvation” could occur again in Ethiopia.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the yearlong war between Ethiopian and allied forces and fighters from the country’s northern Tigray region, who long dominated the national government before Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office. Tigray forces are moving closer to the capital, and the United States and others have warned that Africa’s second-most populous country could fracture and destabilize the Horn of Africa.

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