Tuesday, April 16, 2024

AfDB withdraws international staff from Ethiopia amid diplomatic breach

The AfDB president said, “The assessment from the bank’s delegation indicates that the situation is still not yet satisfactorily resolved.”

• December 20, 2023
Dr Akinwumi Adesina
Dr Akinwumi Adesina

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has decided to withdraw all its international staff from Ethiopia with immediate effect.

The bank’s president, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, said in a statement issued by AfDB on Wednesday that the office would, however, remain open under an officer-in-charge.

“These measures will not affect national-recruited staff from Ethiopia who will continue their work and remain in full employment with the bank.

“The bank will assure them and their families of its duty of care,” he said.

According to Mr Adesina, this decision followed the recent breach of diplomatic protocol and assault by Ethiopian security forces on two of the bank’s international staff.

“Specifically, on October 31, 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 diplomatic immunities, rights, and privileges under the AfDB group’s host country agreement with the government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

“On learning of the incident, I immediately contacted the highest levels of authority in the Ethiopian government, following which the bank’s two staff members were released,” he said.

Mr Adesina said the bank formally communicated with the government of Ethiopia through an official note verbale on November 6, requesting a full and transparent investigation into the incident.

He said a high-level delegation of bank officials led by its senior vice president to Addis Ababa was sent on November 22 to engage with senior Ethiopian authorities on the matter.

The AfDB president said, “The assessment from the bank’s delegation indicates that the situation is still not yet satisfactorily resolved.

”It also does not provide full confidence that all the AfDB’s employees feel safe and secure to carry out their duties and move around the country without fear of harassment.

“The AfDB remains particularly concerned that the Ethiopian government has, to date, not shared with the Bank any report or details of investigations into the incident,” Mr Adesina added.

According to the AfDB boss, the October incident continues to cause anxiety, especially among staff at the Ethiopian country office.

He explained that the incident had also raised concerns among the bank’s shareholders, other multilateral development banks, and international financial institutions, among others.

Mr Adesina reiterated that the AfDB would 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, “In this regard, as a precautionary measure, the Bank’s international staff in Ethiopia will work remotely outside the country.

“Until the findings of the government investigations into the grave incident are transparently shared with the Bank,

“And full details of the measures taken to bring the guilty parties to book are made public,” he said.

The AfDB boss expressed the commitment of the bank to supporting the country’s socioeconomic development.

”As of September 30, the bank’s ongoing portfolio in Ethiopia, comprising 22 projects, totalled 1.24 billion dollars.

“AfDB appreciates the excellent relations it has had with Ethiopia until this egregious incident.

“Its continued operations and future presence in the country can be negatively affected if the incident is not fully resolved,” he said.


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