UN chief slams Burkina Faso for expelling top envoy accused of ‚discrediting country’

UN chief slams Burkina Faso for expelling top envoy accused of ‚discrediting country’

Burkina Faso had no grounds for ordering senior UN official Barbara Manzi to leave the country because the doctrine of “persona non grata” could not be applied to her, the United Nations has said in a statement after the military government ordered Manzi to leave Burkina Faso immediately.

The military government in Ouagadougou expelled the country’s top UN official on Friday (23 December), declaring her “persona non grata” without providing any specific explanation, but a senior Burkinabe diplomat says it was because she sought to “discredit the country” by preparing the evacuation of UN families over concerns about deteriorating security.

Manzi often traveled to hard hit parts of the country to try to raise awareness about the deteriorating humanitarian crisis. The native of Italy has extensive experience with the UN, working as the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Ukraine, Iraq, Myanma, Sri Lanka and Djibouti.

Foreign minister Olivia Rouamba later accused Manzi of painting a negative picture of the security situation in Burkina Faso, which has been grappling with a security crisis and escalating violence since 2015. Manzi “predicted chaos in Burkina Faso in the next few months,” Rouamba said and alleged that “she discredited the country and discouraged potential investors” without noting the government’s “big efforts” towards improving security.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “learned with regret” about Burkina Faso’s decision and expressed “full confidence … in Ms Manzi’s commitment and professionalism,” his spokesperson said in a statement on Saturday (24 December). “The doctrine of persona non grata does not apply to United Nations officials,” he added.

Burkina Faso, one of the world’s poorest countries, has been wracked by violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group that has killed thousands and displaced nearly 2 million people — creating a growing humanitarian crisis.

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