Some of UN high officials have been taking of biased sides in Ethiopia’s ten month old conflict, a UN insider said.

According to the source, not the organization, some of UN high level staff biased of officials of taking sides in Ethiopia’s ten-month old conflict.

On 3 August 2021, the government leveled accusation of bias against aid agencies citing the case of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) that it said “have been disseminating misinformation on social media and other platforms outside of the mandate and purpose for which the organizations were permitted to operate”.

A picture that went spiral on social media showed a TPLF spokesperson using a satellite phone apparently belonging to a WFP staffer who stood by his side in the photo.

Many Ethiopian UN staff working closely on the crises that accompanied the war in Tigray talk of an overall bias among international aid agency workers, who they say have faulted the government of wrongdoing in the war to the extent of blurring their judgment on important matters. Surprisingly, most other African UN staff also tended to share this view of bias predominantly among staff of aid agencies that are of western/European origins, it stated.

The Ethiopian and African staff is afraid to go in the open to make such a statement, and even worse, to present evidence to that effect for fear of reprisals. Nobody wants to lose a UN job.

An aid insider showed how some UN staff played a role in misrepresenting facts about the humanitarian crisis in Tigray. The information gathered relate to the three most important highlights of the crisis, namely, 5.2 million people are in need of aid, 2 million people have been displaced, and at least 400,000 people are in conditions approximating famine. This is however in no way an attempt to downplay the humanitarian crisis in Tigray.

In April 2021, an international staff from the Global Health Cluster coordinator (called Emma), came up with a data of 3.8 million people in need, which she never justified to the team in Ethiopia and even did not share the file she worked on.

The International Health Cluster Coordinator that manipulates the data on health needs, and later the Incident Managers posted in Tigray were picked and sent directly by the Director General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom, who is a Tigrayan himself and was a member of the Executive Committee of the TPLF before he assumed this position.

In fact, WHO staff deployed in Mekelle would tell you that the Incident Managers were rotated every two months and were constantly on direct calls with the Director General himself. They exercised powers that extended to firing staff that didn’t tag along with their way of reporting about the crisis. On the day when TPLF re-took Mekelle, the Incident Manager at that time (named Andrew), called a meeting to openly make a congratulatory remark that “Tigray is liberated” to the amazement of other foreign staff present.

When the January 2021 data on health needs was generated, the number of displaced people was set at below one million based on IOM data. The number suddenly jumped to two million and it is still reported as such within and outside the UN.

FAO insiders said the data on famine in Tigray was generated. The Officer said that he went to Mekelle once and travelled to the city of Axum in a convoy and that IPC has no staff in Mekelle to do data collection.

The report does not provide details on the data collection methodology it employed, but talks of “purposive sampling surveys conducted in the most affected kebeles (non-representative).” The IPC Ethiopia officer specifically admitted to the FAO insiders that “his bosses in Rome” generated the data without going into details. The IPC project is led by a FAO Project Officer in Rome, who is supervised by a certain Ethiopian-born Deputy Director of the Emergencies Division of FAO (called Shukri) is known to be an outspoken supporter of the TPLF-led regime.

The IPC officer in the FAO Ethiopia office did not want to give details, the two Ethiopians are definitely among “his bosses’ who generated the IPC data without a single staff on the ground to collect evidence. The rules of the UN require political neutrality, but as the above examples show, those rules do not seem to have been followed strictly at the highest levels.

The WHO Director General on Facebook and Twitter on the situation in Tigray has literally been acting like a political activist for some time. And he was mostly recruiting on language requirements, and those handpicked and sent from Geneva.

Many who knew Ethiopian politics and closely followed the reporting on the crisis have been surprised by the extent to which the already bad situation has been sensationalized.

The Ethiopian Herald October 3/2021

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