About 16 United Nations staff and their dependents have been detained by the Ethiopian government in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
According to reports, UN security officials have visited the detained staff and have told the Abiy Ahmed administration to release them immediately.
“We are, of course, actively working with the government of Ethiopia to secure their immediate release,” U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.
He declined to answer a question on the ethnicity of those detained, saying: “These are United Nations staff members, they’re Ethiopians … and we would like to see them released, whatever ethnicity is listed on their identity cards.”
The state-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said on Sunday it had received many reports of arrests of Tigrayans in the capital, including elders and mothers with children.
This comes as Government forces and Tigrayan fighters loyal to Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) have been in shootouts, a war that has lasted a year.
Last week, the TPLF and allies, including Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), announced they have advanced towards Addis Ababa.
A state of emergency was declared on November 2, empowering the government to arrest anyone they find to be working for the TPLF or OLA.
Daniel Bekele, head of Ethiopian Human Rights Commission told Reuters on Tuesday, November 9 that the arrest of hundreds of Tigrayans has been ongoing.
On Monday, the police said only “followers” of the TPLF are being detained, adding that “this is not ethnically motivated”.
Fasika Fanta, spokesperson for the Addis Ababa police, and government spokesman Legesse Tulu told Reuters they had no information on the arrests of U.N. staff.
“Those that have been detained are Ethiopians who violate the law,” said Legesse.