Africa-Press – Kenya. A Kenyan working for the United Nations (UN) was on Monday, October 11 sent on administrative leave for making what her employer termed as “offensive remarks” on the crisis in Ethiopia.
Maureen Achieng’, who served as the Chief of Mission to Ethiopia under the International Organisation for Migration (IOM, was accused of conducting ‘unauthorised interviews’ in which she allegedly made insensitive remarks over the ongoing Tigrayan conflict.
She also allegedly made inappropriate references to high-ranking members of the IOM, a UN agency, during an interview with Jeff Pearce.
During the interviews, Achieng and another senior UN official complained of being sidelined by higher-placed officials when they got to Ethiopia at the onset of the conflict. She further accused her bosses of being sympathetic to Tigrayan rebels.
Achieng was accused of referring to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) as “dirty” and “vicious” and vowed never to return to Tigray.
In one of the videos, she purportedly accused the rebels of plotting to have Tigrayan migrant workers facing deportation from Saudi Arabia sent to Rwanda.
IOM Director General Antonio Vitorino, in a letter dated October 11, distanced the agency from Achieng’s comments.
“The opinions attributed in the audio recordings to the staff member do not correspond to IOM’s principles and values and should not in any way be considered as expressing IOM’s positions,” the letter read in part.
Responding to the accusations levelled against her, she stated that she was deeply disturbed and disappointed. She further claimed that the audio was “surreptitiously recorded and selectively edited.”
The suspension comes barely a month after Ethiopia sent home other UN officials for allegedly “meddling” in its affairs.
The Ethiopian conflict was among the issues discussed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and UN Secretary-General Guterres. The Head of State, who took over as the President of the UN Security Council on October 1, would lead discussions in the meeting.
Spanning 11 months, the conflict escalated into a brutal war in the Northern Region of Ethiopia, driving hundreds of thousands of people into famine-like conditions.