Ethiopia closes several diplomatic missions amid Tigray conflict
NAIROBI, Kenya - The federal government of Ethiopia has started the implementation of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's order of closing several embassies and consulates, Addis Ababa Standard has established, in a move that could reduce her foreign presence.
Already, the government has started recalling diplomats home from missions that are set to remain operational, in a move aimed at reducing "operation" costs according to embattled Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has been at the helm since 2018.
Early this week, Abiy, who had also withdraw Ethiopia National Defense Forces [ENDF] from Tigray following a costly war, said there was no reason for funding foreign missions which can comfortably work from within the Horn of Africa nation.
According to sources who spoke to Addis Ababa Standard, at least 18 staff members of Ethiopia's embassy in Washington DC have been recalled. An addition of five staff members of Permanent Mission in United Nations has been recalled, leaving behind only three.
The Addis Standard also learned through sources close to the matter that Ethiopian Consulates in Los Angeles, Frankfurt, and Minnesota will be closed and staff members will be recalled home.
The consulate in Minnesota, US was opened in 2018 shortly after Abiy Ahmed, the Nobel Peace Prize winner for 2019, took over office. Unfortunately, it is one of the missions affected in the ongoing radical surgery in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ahmed faces the House of Representatives early this week where he answered a number of issues facing the Horn of Africa nation, including dwindling financial fortunes and determining security. It's here he hinted at closing down of close to 30 foreign missions.
“Ethiopia would need to close at least 30 of its embassies,” he said while explaining the move to members of parliament by asserting that it was purely due to economic reasons.
Moreover, the PM remarks came with criticism of the performance of the country’s overseas missions. The PM, who is faced with multiple challenges including a deteriorating security situation in the country due to conflicts, an economic crisis due to shortage of foreign currency among many others, explained on Monday the need for a change in the country’s foreign policy initiatives.
According to the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs [MoFA], Ethiopia currently has a total of 59 overseas missions. The ministry has been widely criticized over the recent Tigray genocide, with a number of foreign countries accusing Ethiopia of hiding crucial information.
The withdrawal of ENDF, Eritrea troops, and those from Amhara regional forces eased the crisis in Tigray but the Tigray People's Liberation Front [TPLF] otherwise known as Tigray Defense Forces [TDF] has called for a negotiated ceasefire.
A number of International Community members accused Addis Ababa of starving Tigray people to death by blocking humanitarian teams that are trying to access the region. The conflict is far from over-given hard positions taken by the two conflicting sides.