New York [US], November 10 (ANI/Sputnik): A total of 16 local UN staff are currently being detained in Ethiopia, while six others have been released, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday.
"The current numbers are that 16 national staff have been detained while six have been released," Dujarric told a noon briefing. "We are of course actively working with the government of Ethiopia to secure their immediate release."Dujarric added that Ethiopia gave no explanation as to why the staffers were detained.
The UN personnel are currently being held in facilities against their will, while authorities have not charged them with any wrongdoing, according to Dujarric.
The United Nations managed to contact some of the staff who were released, the spokesman said, without providing any details on the nature of those conversations.
When asked about the reports of UN contractors being detained across Ethiopia, Dujarric said he could not confirm it, but the organization is "pursuing" the information.
The United Nations currently has 2,398 local personnel, 1,077 international, and 4,957 dependents in Ethiopia.
Dujarric said the organization is monitoring the situation in the East African country "on more than a daily basis" to decide on the possible need for relocation and will do whatever is needed to keep its staff safe.
Northern Ethiopia has been engulfed in an internal conflict since November last year when the central government accused the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) of attacking a military base and launched a counter operation in Tigray region. Hostilities have since been going on despite a June ceasefire.
In early November, the Ethiopian parliament declared a six-month state of emergency throughout the country as TPLF rebels threatened to advance upon the capital of Addis Ababa.
The declaration allows the government to arrest anyone suspected of cooperating with terrorists. The TPLF has been designated as a terrorist group by the Ethiopian government. (ANI/Sputnik)