African Development Bank Withdraws International Staff from Ethiopia

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) announced on Wednesday the immediate withdrawal of its international staff from Ethiopia, citing an incident in which two of its employees were reportedly assaulted and detained by Ethiopian security forces in late October in Addis Ababa.

In a press release, the African Development Bank stated, “The African Development Bank has decided to withdraw all its international staff from Ethiopia immediately.” This decision follows a recent breach of diplomatic protocol and the physical assault and detention of two international AfDB employees by Ethiopian security forces. The statement further notes that the Addis Ababa office will remain operational with local staff.

The organization reveals that two employees based in Addis Ababa were “illegally arrested, physically assaulted, and detained for several hours by elements of the security forces without official explanation” on October 31. Although the victims’ identities are not explicitly mentioned, diplomatic sources in Addis Ababa had earlier indicated that one of them was Abdul Kamara, the AfDB’s director in Ethiopia and deputy director-general for East Africa, who subsequently left the country after the incident.

In mid-November, over two weeks after the incident, the AfDB had already decried a “grave diplomatic incident.” While acknowledging the “immediate intervention” of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who ordered the release of the individuals and pledged an investigation, AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina now states in a recent press release that the situation remains unsatisfactorily unresolved.

The AfDB had previously lodged an official complaint with Ethiopian authorities. Expressing ongoing concern, Adesina notes that the Ethiopian government has yet to share any reports or investigation details regarding the incident with the bank.

Established in 1964 to finance development efforts in Africa, the AfDB counts around twenty non-African member states, including the United States, China, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, India, and African Union member countries. As of September 30, the AfDB’s investments in Ethiopia amounted to $1.24 billion spread across 22 projects. The withdrawal of international staff underscores the seriousness of the diplomatic incident and its potential ramifications on the bank’s engagements in the country.

Soukaina Sghir

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