Irrefutable testimonies ignored by the UN

Lately, Ethiopia expelled seven members of the UN stating their misconducts openly to the UN itself and the international community at large. Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs disclosed in a letter saying UN officials breached international agreements of respecting the sovereignty of nations and values enshrined in the UN Charter: efficiency, competence, and most importantly integrity.

The expelled staff members were diverting humanitarian assistance, transferring communication equipment to the terrorist TPLF group, violated security arrangements, preferred silence while aid trucks have not returned, disseminated misinformation, and politicized humanitarian assistance, the Ministry added. These are clear breaches that the general of the UN ignored to give attention to. Before the decision of expelling came, Ethiopia tried to communicate with the UN on the matter but to no avail.

The violation of law and principles are now presented in a letter and also read at the UN session. Once again, the UN ignored Ethiopia’s concern. It rather chose to rattle Ethiopia and the Ethiopian government. Responding to an interview after the UNSC session, the United Nation Security general said “because so many accusations are appearing, today, I asked the Ambassador of Ethiopia to provide me with any copy of any written document given by the Government of Ethiopia to any UN entity about wrongdoings of any of these seven members of the UN. And, if such a document will be provided, we will of course, immediately, do an investigation of why it did not come to my attention. ” The united nation is clearly in defensive mood and refused to admit the misconduct of its employees.

What further strengthens this point is the UN’s recent measure against its migration agency representative in Ethiopia. As France 24 reports it, the UN’s migration agency has put its Ethiopian chief on administrative leave, citing “unauthorized interviews” in which she said of being sidelined by UN higher-ups she claimed were sympathetic to Tigrayan rebels. The departure of Maureen Achieng was confirmed in a letter dated Monday and seen by AFP.

Last week, multiple recordings surfaced online of Achieng and another senior UN official granting a lengthy interview to Jeff Pearce, a writer who has published multiple articles defending the government’s conduct of the war against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Achieng, the International Organization for Migration’s Chief of Mission to Ethiopia in the recordings exposed higher officials at the UN of being sidelined since the war broke out last November. She said they “descended on” Addis Ababa and hampered the offices working as they attempted to turn away the office for their cause and the TPLF’s benefit. Achieng was detested by TPLF’s intrusion and called it “dirty” and “vicious”.

At one point she accuses the rebels of plotting to have Tigrayan migrant workers facing deportation from Saudi Arabia sent to Rwanda.

“And then you don’t know what guerrilla movement starts from Rwanda. I mean, it’s dirty,” she said.

In an internal note to colleagues last week, also seen by AFP, Achieng said she was “deeply disturbed and disappointed” by the audio, which she said had been “surreptitiously recorded and selectively edited.”

However at several points during the interview, the participants openly discuss that it is being recorded.

On Monday Antonio Vitorino, director-general of IOM wrote a letter distancing the agency from Achieng’s comments.

“The opinions attributed in the audio recordings to the staff member do not correspond to IOM’s principles and values and should not in any way be considered as expressing IOM’s positions,” it said.

The letter, which does not refer to Achieng by name, says she was “immediately recalled,” and “put on administrative leave” pending an investigation.

The spokesperson of the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s Office, Billene Seyoum, criticized IOM on Twitter on Tuesday. She said Achieng — whom she referred to by linking to Achieng’s verified Twitter account — had told: “the unvarnished truth on the institutional bias with the UN system”.

If the UN is interested to preserve the integrity and professionalism of the organization, Achieng’s testimonies are far enough. What she said are consistent with what the Ethiopian government has reported earlier about some of the UN staff members unexpected action. It is recalled that the government of Ethiopia said seven staff members of the UN have corroborated with the banned group, TPLF. They have been giving information, aiding with materials and propaganda. Therefore, what Achieng has said should be received with admiration than being reprimanded. So, one can easily be in good understanding of the United Nations’ intention from this biased action. The United Nations preferred to cover up the abuse of the office and lack of integrity and professionalism of its staff than being hurried to correct and keep its prestige.

The mission of the United Nations as it proclaims it or as someone can reckon from some of its deeds is simple and noble. The United Nations work for maintaining peace and security, and it encourages international cooperation for a better world. While doing this, the United Nations has to act independently. Integrity, respect for diversity, and professionalism are core values of the organization. These are the perquisites to efficiently carry out its mission, which has been bestowed by several signatory countries.

However, the United Nations has several times failed to live up to its core values as its workers bend down for corruption, racism, sex abuse, and other acts that put their professionalism in jeopardy.

The UN is already dented with corruption allegation that has been reported by the Economist and other media outlets, and numerous sex scandals by United Nation peacekeepers in Bosnia, Central Africa, and West Sahara. There is also a report of racism at this organization which had to appear as a model for others. In the words of a former senior official at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA): “When you start working at the UN, an institution that was entirely conceived and founded based on equality and human rights, you never imagine this kind of behavior. Some of my colleagues dropped hints about the culture there when I began my job. But I was in denial until I was personally confronted with discrimination. I’ll never forget the disrespectful looks some people would give me and the colleagues who’d make up bogus excuses to leave meetings I was presiding over.”

The hope was the UN would assess itself and stand corrected for tasks ahead but this doesn’t seem to be happening. To everyone surprise, the UN is defending workers with violation of protocols and on the other side punishing employees acting independently. UN’s recent actions especially the departure of Achieng send a signal that the UN isn’t ready to handle the truth. With this action, the UN has exposed itself, its unwillingness to correct and to live up to its core values that are enshrined in its charter.



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