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News: AfDB says Ethiopia didn’t resolve assault on its two staffs, decides to pull out international employees

AfDB Headquarters (Photo:AfDB Website)

Addis Abeba – The African Development Bank (AfDB) has said the Ethiopian government didn’t yet resolve “in any satisfactory manner” the assault by Ethiopian security forces on two of its international members of staff on 31 October 2023.

Subsequently, it decided to withdraw all its international staff from Ethiopia with immediate effect as of 19 December 2023.

“We remain particularly concerned that the Ethiopian government has, to date, not shared with us any report or details of investigations into this gross infringement,” Akinwumi Adesina, president of the bank said in a memorandum internally circulated among the bank’s staff and seen by Addis Standard.

On 16 November 2023, the bank admitted after weeks of local media reports that two of its staff members “were unlawfully arrested, physically assaulted, and detained for many hours by elements of the security forces without any official explanation” on 31 October 2023.

The bank said back then the assault was “a very serious diplomatic incident,” and that its complaints to the Ethiopian government had been “formally acknowledged”.

However, according to the internal memorandum, despite the bank’s request on 06 November 2023 of full and transparent investigation into the incident, and subsequent engagements with Ethiopian authorities, an assessment by a high-level delegation from the Bank, led by the Senior Vice-President, “indicates that the situation is not yet resolved in any satisfactory manner, nor does it provide full confidence that all our employees feel safe and secure to carry out their duties and move around the country without fear of harassment”.

The bank said the incident “was a gross violation of their [the two staff members] personal diplomatic immunities, rights and privileges under the Bank’s Host Country Agreement with Ethiopia.

According to the internal memorandum, the bank’s decision to withdraw its international staff will not affect nationally recruited staff from Ethiopia, and the bank’s office in Ethiopia will remain open but under an Officer-in-Charge.

During a weekly briefing given to local media on 16 November 2023, Ambassador Meles Alem, Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was quoted as saying “the incident did not cause the bank to close its office, and the relationship between the two [the bank and Ethiopian government] was not severed.” 

Ambassador Meles did not immediately respond to Addis Standard’s request for a comment on the latest development. AS

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