World News

Ethiopian police seeking lists of ethnic Tigrayans - U.N. report

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Ethiopian police visited an office of the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) in Amhara region to request a list of ethnic Tigrayan staff, according to an internal U.N. security report seen by Reuters on Friday.

The local police chief informed them of “the order of identifying ethnic Tigrayans from all government agencies and NGOs”, the report said, underlining fears over the ethnic undertones to a federal military push against the leaders of Tigray province in north Ethiopia which borders Amhara.

The United Nations told the police they do not identify staff by ethnicity, according to the report. There was no immediate comment from the Amhara regional police or government.

Ethiopia launched a military offensive in the rebellious Tigray region last week that has killed hundreds and shaken the wider Horn of Africa region.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed accuses the leaders of the northern region - the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) - of treason. Concerns are growing that the campaign against them could led to ethnic profiling of Tigrayans throughout the country.

News also came on Friday that the African Union had dismissed its security head, an Ethiopian national, after Abiy’s government accused him of disloyalty. An analyst said the dismissal was part of the Abiy government’s efforts to sideline prominent Tigrayans.

Local forces and militias from Amhara, which has boundary disputes with Tigray, are backing the federal troops’ campaign, further increasing ethnic friction.

Reporting by Nairobi newsroom; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne and Maggie Fick, Editing by William Maclean