by Miceál O’Hurley
DUBLIN – Diplomacy in Ireland – The European Diplomat would like to announce further awards of the Diplomatic Service Medal. The Awards Committee has decided that three bodies of the United Nations operating as part of the United Nations Team in Ethiopia (UNTE) will receive the Diplomacy in Ireland – The European Diplomat Raoul Wallenberg Award and the Diplomatic Service Medal with Honour in the 2021 Diplomatic Service Awards. The three UN bodies operating in Ethiopia to receive the honours are the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA); the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); and, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The conferral of the awards of the Diplomatic Service Medal will take place in December.
The United Nations Team in Ethiopia has responded to both natural disasters causing food insecurity only to respond to a war being waged between the Government of Ethiopia and a separatist faction in Tigray. The crisis has cause severe displacement, hunger and death and continues still. In September 2021, the Government of Ethiopia declared seven of the United Nations Team in Ethiopia personae non grata and ordered them to leave the country within 72 hours. At a time of incredible suffering and need, UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed shock at the announcement, saying “all UN humanitarian operations are guided by the core principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and independence.”
According to the United Nation OCHA spokesperson in Geneva, Jens Laerke, the agency was equally shocked and expects the decision to be “changed, or be reviewed, or modified in some way.” OCHA oversees the emergency aid operation in northern Ethiopia, where conflict in the Tigray region has been raging for nearly a year.
Some 5.2 million people in Tigray are in urgent need of assistance, and the conflict has spilled over into two neighbouring regions, Afar and Amhara, “which rapidly means that the humanitarian needs are increasing, and also the number of internally displaced people are increasing,” said Laerke.
Humanitarians are also extremely concerned about food insecurity in Tigray. Mr. Laerke said the number without access to sufficient food supplies rose from five per cent to 21 per cent between June and September.
Furthermore, screenings indicated unprecedented levels of moderate malnutrition among pregnant and lactating women, while moderate acute malnutrition among children under five, is around 18 per cent, exceeding the global emergency threshold of 15 per cent.
Laerke added that access and response were “not at all” at the level they should be. Only 11 per cent of the trucks needed to bring in humanitarian aid arrived in Tigray since mid-July.
On 11 November, the Government of Ethiopia detained 7 United Nations workers on un-specified charges, further impeding the work of distributing humanitarian aid in a neutral and impartial manner. While the United Nations workers were later released, the Government of Ethiopia again warned United Nations workers they were subject to arrest.
The conflict in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia has spilled-over the neighbouring countries and continues places the Horn of Africa in turmoil and millions of human lives at risk.
The United Nations Team in Ethiopia, particularly the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA); the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); and, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has distinguished themselves, at great risk to their personal safety and lives, to provide much needed assistance to the region while maintaining their neutrality and impartiality in keeping with the best practices of the guiding principles of the United Nations.
Raoul Wallenberg (1912 – 1945) was a Swedish diplomat. Through ingenuity, tireless work and sheer courage Wallenberg issued protective passports to Jews and sheltered them in buildings designated as Swedish territory under diplomatic agreements. The Swedish legation in Budapest was successful in negotiating with the German authorities so that the bearers of the protective passes would be treated as Swedish citizens and be exempt from having to wear the yellow badge required for Jews. When the German government deckared the travel passes were invalid, Wallenberg appealed for help from Baroness Elisabeth Kemény, wife of Baron Gábor Kemény, Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs in Budapest. She convinced her husband to have 9,000 passes honoured.
At times, Wallenberg risked his lives by confronting SS Officers detailed to round-up Jews for deportation to the death camps. In an account given by Sandor Ardai, one of the drivers working for Wallenberg, he recounted what Wallenberg did when he intercepted a trainload of Jews about to leave for Auschwitz:
… he climbed up on the roof of the train and began handing in protective passes through the doors which were not yet sealed. He ignored orders from the Germans for him to get down, then the Arrow Cross men began shooting and shouting at him to go away. He ignored them and calmly continued handing out passports to the hands that were reaching out for them. I believe the Arrow Cross men deliberately aimed over his head, as not one shot hit him, which would have been impossible otherwise. I think this is what they did because they were so impressed by his courage. After Wallenberg had handed over the last of the passports he ordered all those who had one to leave the train and walk to the caravan of cars parked nearby, all marked in Swedish colours. I don’t remember exactly how many, but he saved dozens off that train, and the Germans and Arrow Cross were so dumbfounded they let him get away with it.
Wallenber’s efforts, and those of the Swedish legation in Budapest, are credited with saving tens-of-thousands of lives, preventing Jews and other opponents of fascism and the Nazis from perishing in death camps or by summary execution. However, in January 1945, during the siege of Budapest, the Soviet secret police, SMERSH, arrested Wallenberg on the specious charge of ‘espionage’. Imprisoned in Moscow’s notorious Lubyanka prison (the headquarters of the KGB secret police), Wallenberg was never seen alive again.
To this day, more than 75-years after his arrest, Russia persists in refusing to disclose the truth about why Wallenberg was detained, tourtured and died in their detention. Because of his remarkable efforts to save lives, Wallenberg has been honoured by many nations, having been made an ‘Honorary Citizen of Canada’, being named one of the ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ in Israel and receiving the ‘Congressional Gold Medal’ and made an ‘Honorary Citizen of the United States’ (only the second person to have ever held this honour).
Ballywire Media’s Support
Ballywire Media CEO Paul Collins sends his congratulations to the United Nations Team in Ethiopia for their tremendous work. Ballywire Media, a Dublin-based multi media content creator, is the Patron of this year’s Raoul Wallenberg Award which will honour the efforts of the United Nations is saving millions of lives. According to Collins, “What better reason can there be to deserve recognition than feeding, clothing, sheltering and providing basic health care to millions of souls in need. The UN is truly to be congratulated and being able to be part of that is a privilege for myself and Ballywire Media.”
About the Diplomatic Service Medal
The Diplomatic Service Medal is struck as a medallion suspended from a bar and ribbon of blue and yellow reflecting the colours adopted by the European Union of which Ireland is an integral member. Burnished silver in colour, the medal depicts Nike, the goddess of victory surrounded by the eleven of the twelve stars of the European Union signifying that the work of the European Union and diplomats everywhere is never complete. Tradition holds that Nike represents the mythic gods as the embodiment of victory in both war and peaceful competition. As uniquely depicted on the Diplomatic Service Medal, the goddess Nike, faithful to the foundational commission of diplomats, is rendered without her sword associated with military might and instead holds aloft the torch of truth, knowledge and service lit with the flame of wisdom in her left hand while in her right she embraces the laurel wreath of peace.
The Diplomatic Service Awards are an annual event hosted by Diplomacy in Ireland – The European Diplomat. The Certificate and Medal are of exceptional design depicting the victory of diplomacy over conflict. The awards are conferred by the Editor and the Awards Chairperson each December.
Two Types of Awards for Diplomacy, International Relations, Research, Teaching & Service
The Diplomatic Service Award is a certificate that can be awarded to individuals who merit special recognition owing to their exceptional contributions of service in the fields of diplomacy, foreign affairs or international relations, in research or teaching in the academy, or in distinguished service rendered to diplomats. When the Diplomatic Service Award is conferred it is done so by means of a certificate describing the acts that merit the award.
The Diplomatic Service Medal is a medal struck in metal suspended from a clasp and ribbon. It may be conferred upon those who serve in the domestic or foreign services, holding diplomatic rank, or those who have rendered exceptional service to diplomats and the cause of diplomacy. When the Diplomatic Service Medal is conferred it is accompanied by a certificate describing the reason for the award of the medal.
Medal Conferral Categories
Diplomatic Service Medal with Honours – This category is deferred solely upon those holding the dignity of Ambassadorial or Ministerial rank, or by those who discharged the rank of Chargé d’Affaires. It appears with a silver oak leaf device attached to the ribbon to denote the special dignity for which the medal was awarded. The medal is accompanied by a Certificate describing the reasons for the medal being conferred.
Diplomatic Service Medal – The medal suspended from the ribbon is awarded to all other recipients of the medal accompanied by a Certificate describing the reasons for the medal being conferred.
Diplomatic Service Medal with Valour Device – If any recipient is presented with the award for having exhibited exceptional valour in diplomatic service for the betterment of humanity, or the safety of civilians, which merits the award of the Diplomatic Service Medal with Valour. In this instance, a ‘V’ device surrounded by a laurel wreath is attached to the ribbon to denote this rare and special distinction. The medal is accompanied by a Certificate describing the reasons for the medal being conferred.
Diplomatic Service Award – Those whose contributions are deserving of recognition may be awarded the Diplomatic Service Award – Certificate of Recognition.
Conferral of Medals and Awards
Annual December Awards – The Diplomatic Service Medals and Awards are generally presented annually in December. However, the medal or award may be awarded at any time by a decision of the Editor and Awards Chairperson.
Comments from Editor-in-Chief Miceál O’Hurley
“The efforts of United Nations workers in Ethiopia have been heroic. Beyond responding to natural disasters that have brought about food insecurity and caused people to flee across the Ethiopian border into neighbouring Horn of Africa countries in search of food, safety and assistance, the conflict that has raged in Ethiopia for over a year has places millions of human souls in crisis. The work of United Nations workers to delivery aid under these conditions is a humanitarian task beyond what might be expected and yet the United Nations workers have persevered and saved lives, even while placing their own at continued risk. The UN Team in Ethiopia have proven they are what is best about humanity and are a credit to the United Nations and those who fund their work,” said O’Hurley.
Comments from Awards Chairperson Oksana Shadrina
“What could be more noble than to remain neutral in the midst of a conflict and enter dangerous areas to deliver critically needed staples of life, be it food, medicine, clothing or other vital needs. Millions of people have been kept alive by the efforts of the United Nations OCHA, UNICEF and OHCHR staff, and the entire United Nations Team in Ethiopia. These tireless and devoted humanitarians deserve our recognition and applause, not to mention whatever support the world can direct to their programmes,” remarked Shadrina.
# # # END ###
For More Information Contact:
Miceál O’Hurley, Editor-in-Chief
Diplomacy in Ireland – The European Diplomat
Telephone: (086) 107 0017 or (01) 254 4747