Ethiopia expels four Irish diplomats

Ethiopia has expelled four Irish diplomats because of Ireland’s stance on the ongoing conflict in the Horn of Africa nation.

The four have been given a week to leave, a statement from Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said.

The ambassador and one other member of the embassy staff have however been allowed to stay.

The minister said that Ethiopian authorities had explained that the expulsions were because of Ireland’s position on the conflict and humanitarian crisis that has left millions in urgent need of food assistance.

He said he regretted the move but that the embassy would remain open.

Ireland has had an embassy in Ethiopia since 1994.

The country, which holds a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council, has been vocal in denouncing atrocities committed by both sides in the civil war which broke out a year ago.

Several UN officials were expelled from the country in September while at least five others remain in detention. No reason has been given for their arrest.

It comes as a growing number of countries including the UK and the US urge their nationals to immediately leave Ethiopia as fighting intensifies.

Rebel forces from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and allied militias say they are advancing towards the capital.

Earlier this week they said that they had taken control of Shewa Robit, a town about 225km (140 miles) from Addis Ababa. There is no independent confirmation of the claim.

The Ethiopian government says it’s facing undue pressure and interference from the west and alleges a coordinated campaign by international media against it.

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