US orders its citizens and non-emergency staff to leave Ethiopia as war escalates

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The United States has ordered its citizens, non-emergency government employees and their families to immediately leave Ethiopia as the country’s war escalates.

In a 6 November travel advisory, the US Department of State also ordered US citizens and their families not to travel to Ethiopia due to “armed conflict, civil unrest, communications disruptions, crime and potential for terrorism and kidnapping at border areas”

“The US Department of State urges US citizens in Ethiopia to depart now using available commercial flights… travel to Ethiopia is unsafe due to ongoing armed conflict, incidents of civil unrest and ethnic violence occuring without warning.” the advisory reads in part.

This follows reports of hightened military offensive from Tigrayan rebels this week and threats that a take-over of the capital was a few weeks away.

On Friday, it was also reported that the Tigray forces who long dominated the national government before a falling-out with the current government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, signed an alliance with eight other armed and opposition groups. The rebels said they are seeking a political transition but left open the possibility of using force to make Abiy go.

In the latest advisory, the US government noted that its embassy in Addis Ababa is unlikely to help US citizens with departure if commercial options become unavailable.

The U.S. warning also comes a day after the U.S. special envoy for the Horn of Africa met with Ethiopia’s prime minister amid growing calls for an immediate cease-fire and talks.

At this time, however, the US government notes that its embassy remains open and processes passports and Consular Reports for Bith Abroad for those preparing to depart. The embassy, according to the advisory, can also provide a reperatriation loan to US citizens who at this time cannot afford a commercial ticket to the United States.

The advisory warns US citizens planning to remain in Ethiopia to ensure they stock surfficient supplies to shelter in place. It also says, the US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to its citizens outside the capital Addis Ababa as its personel are restricted within.

On Friday, the Ethiopian govenment downplayed threats of new rebel alliance and trashed news of the advance towards the capital as propoaganda driven by western media. Government officials then declared a state of emergency, and called on residents to register their weapons, telling them to get ready to protect their neighbourhoods.

In a rare statement on the clashes, the UN Security Council called for an end to fighting, and reiterated their support for the African Union’s mediation efforts. Ethiopia’s international partners have also appealed for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

It’s one year since the war between the Ethiopian federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front began. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced by the conflict and cases of Human rights violations have been reported.

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