BREAKING: AfDB withdraws staff in Ethiopia over police assault

The African Development Bank has announced its decision to withdraw all its international staff from Ethiopia with immediate effect.

This was disclosed in a statement sent to The PUNCH on Wednesday.

The bank said the decision followed a recent breach of diplomatic protocol and assault by Ethiopian security forces on two of the Bank’s international members of staff and the subsequent inaction of the Ethiopian government to provide a full and transparent investigation into the incident.

It also said that the bank’s international staff in Ethiopia will work remotely outside the country until the findings of the government investigations into the incident are transparently shared with the bank.

The statement read partly, “Specifically, on the 31st of October 2023, two Addis Ababa-based staff were unlawfully arrested, physically assaulted, and detained for hours without charge or any official explanation.

“This was a gross violation of their personal diplomatic immunities, rights, and privileges under the African Development Bank Group’s Host Country Agreement with the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.”

The statement explained that the AFDB President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, on learning of the incident, immediately contacted the highest levels of authority in the Ethiopian government, following which the bank’s two staff members were released.

It continued, “The African Development Bank formally communicated with the government of Ethiopia through an official note verbale on 6 November requesting a full and transparent investigation into the incident.

The Bank President said, “The assessment from the Bank’s delegation indicates that the situation is still not yet resolved in a satisfactory manner. It also does not provide full confidence that all the African Development Bank’s employees feel safe and secure to carry out their duties and move around the country without fear of harassment.”

“The October incident continues to cause much anxiety across the African Development Bank Group and especially among staff at the Ethiopia country office. The incident has also raised concerns among the Bank’s shareholders, other multilateral development banks, international financial institutions, the broader diplomatic community, and other stakeholders.”

Adesina emphasised the bank will do everything possible to ensure the safety and security of its personnel and the protection of their rights and privileges in the conduct of their work.

He said that the bank remains committed to supporting the country’s socioeconomic development.

Adesina, however, noted, “While the bank appreciates the excellent relations it has with Ethiopia until this egregious incident, its continued operations and future presence in the country could be negatively affected if the incident is not fully resolved.”

The statement further stated that the directive doesn’t affect nationally recruited staff from Ethiopia

These measures will not affect nationally recruited staff from Ethiopia who will continue their work and remain in the full employment of the Bank. The Bank will assure them and their families of its duty of care. The office will remain open under an Officer-in-Charge.”

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