Tigray soldiers withdrawn from UNMISS detained upon arrival in Ethiopia

Ethiopian soldiers serving under the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) |Photo: File

November 27, 2020 (Thessherald)–Three Ethiopian peacekeepers recently withdrawn from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan are reported to have been arrested upon arrival in the capital, Addis Ababa, a security source told Thessherald on Friday.

According to an Ethiopian official, the three soldiers are being interrogated by the authorities on suspicion that they are members of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

“The three soldiers suspected of having links with the Tigrayan leaders are now under investigation after being accused of communicating with leaders of the TPLF.”

The United Nations mission said, on Thursday, that it had learned of the withdrawal of the Ethiopian soldiers without due process from the Ethiopian government, a phenomenon that raises concern that Tigrayans are being targeted on the basis of ethnicity.

“UNMISS is aware that three soldiers were repatriated by Ethiopia back to their country on Saturday. The Mission’s Human Rights Division is following up on their situation,” the mission’s spokesman, Kirk Kroeker, confirmed to Anadolu Agency on Thursday.

“As a Troop Contributing Country, Ethiopia is ultimately responsible for the conduct and movement of its troops. However, if the personnel is discriminated against because of their ethnicity or any other reason, this could involve a human rights violation under international law.”

“In this regard, UNMISS has requested access to any soldier who might be in need of protection under international law,” the mission said.

Since earlier this month, the federal government and Tigrayans have been involved in an armed conflict that has so far forced thousands of people to flee to neighboring Sudan in search of safety.