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Irish citizens advised to leave Ethiopia 'immediately'

Ethiopian authorities indicated that the decision was due to Ireland’s position on the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis there

Image: TOM HONAN

THE DEPARTMENT OF Foreign Affairs has advised Irish citizens in Ethiopia to leave “immediately” due to “the deteriorating security situation” in the country. 

The Ethiopian government informed Ireland’s embassy in Addis Ababa earlier this week that four of the six Irish diplomats stationed there must leave the country within the week. Ireland’s ambassador and one other diplomat have been permitted to stay.

According to a statement from the Department, Ethiopian authorities indicated that the decision was due to Ireland’s position on the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia, articulated at the UN Security Council. 

The Irish embassy in Addis Ababa remains open, and its focus will be “the provision of consular services, although the reduction of our diplomatic staff numbers by two thirds will inevitably affect our ability to fully provide such services,” Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said in the statement from the Department. 

He added: “We recommend against all travel to Ethiopia and Irish citizens in Ethiopia should leave the country by commercial means immediately.”

‘Dangerous situation’

Speaking to RTÉ news this afternoon, Coveney said that “for many months now … Ireland has been shining a spotlight on things that have been happening in Ethiopia that really are breaches of international law.” 

He added that Ireland has led many of the political debates within the Security Council on the need for the UN to intervene, and to expose human rights abuses that have been happening there. “In particular, the use of sexual violence as a tool of conflict — which is essentially mass rape,” he said.

“We really are at the edge of a very, very dangerous situation, not only for Ethiopians, but also for their neighbors,” Coveney said, adding that Ireland has been and continues to be extremely vocal of this issue.

“Unfortunately, the Ethiopian government has taken that as Ireland speaking against them, that is not what we have been doing,” he said. 

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“We are in favor of Ethiopia staying together, not splitting, but we will also call out breaches of humanitarian law and human rights abuses when they happen.”

Ethiopia is Ireland’s largest development partner and has received €165 million in development and humanitarian support in the last five years, according to the Department. 

“We remain committed to the most vulnerable people in Ethiopia. Ireland was the first country to commit funds to mitigate the humanitarian consequences of the crisis as it began last year,” it said in the statement. 

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