Storm as UN Recalls Ethiopia Migration Head Maureen Achieng Over Tigray War Remarks

Maureen Achieng
Maureen Achieng' [Photo/Courtesy]

The United Nation’s migration agency has recalled its Ethiopia head Maureen Achieng’ over recent comments on the Tigray crisis.

The agency cited the International Organization for Migration (IOM) chief’s “unauthorised interviews” in which she complained of being sidelined by UN bosses she accused of being sympathetic to Tigrayan rebels.

In multiple recordings that surfaced online last week, the Kenyan national, while giving an interview to author Jeff Pearce, tore into her colleagues who “descended on” Addis Ababa after the war erupted last November and sidelined officials on the ground.

Pearce has published multiple articles defending the government’s conduct of the war against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). In the interview, he also had talks with a senior UN official.

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Achieng’ went on to call TPLF “dirty” and “vicious”, vowing never to return to Tigray.

She claimed that the rebels were 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 says.

But in an internal memo to colleagues, as revealed by AFP, Achieng’ claimed the interview was “surreptitiously recorded and selectively edited.”

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The official said that she was “deeply disturbed and disappointed” by the audio.

UN said she had been recalled pending further probe.

“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,” Antonio Vitorino, director general of IOM, said in a letter on Monday.

Vitorino said the official had been immidiately recalled and put on leave.

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Mohammed Abdiker, the agency’s regional director for the East and Horn of Africa, told AFP that the interview violated the IOM’s values and code of conduct.

“In all our operations we try to be impartial and neutral in our work. We do not take sides in a conflict,” Abdiker said, adding that Achieng’s comments raised security concerns for staff members on the ground, including in Tigray.

Analysts say Achieng’s departure risks further undermining an aid response still shaken by Ethiopia’s decision last month to expel seven other senior UN officials for allegedly “meddling” in its affairs.

Kenyans and a section of other social media user took to Twitter to condemn the suspension saying it was unfair. Here are some of the reactions:


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Written by Wycliffe Nyamasege


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