US warns citizens to leave Ethiopia

The U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia has warned American citizens to leave the country as the conflict between the government and the Tigray region fighters continues to deteriorate. 

“The security situation in Ethiopia continues to deteriorate. The U.S. Embassy urges U.S citizens in Ethiopia to depart now using commercially available options,” the embassy said in a statement on Wednesday. 

“Although the Embassy continues to process emergency passports and repatriation loans, and to provide other emergency services, the Embassy is unlikely to be able to assist U.S. citizens in Ethiopia with departure if commercial options become unavailable,” the statement continued. 

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The embassy also said American citizens wishing to depart the country have multiple commercial flights options at the Bole International Airport and added that it will provide repatriation loans for those citizens who cannot afford a commercial flight ticket to the U.S. 

“If you are a U.S. citizen and delaying your departure because your non-U.S. citizen spouse or minor children do not have immigrant visas or U.S. passports, please contact us immediately,” the embassy said. 

This warning comes after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed arrived on the battlefront on Tuesday to lead the federal government forces against the Tigray region fighters. 

Since November 2020, tens of thousands of people have died in the yearlong civil war between Ethiopian troops and fighters from the country’s Tigray region. Most of the fighting has taken place in Tigray, where the Ethiopian military and ally Eritrea have been accused of committing human rights violations, but recently rebel forces have been advancing toward the Ethiopian capital.

The ongoing conflict has left millions of civilians displaced, starving and cut off from aid. 

U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman told reporters on Tuesday that he has seen "nascent progress" between the two sides, but fears it might not last.

“There is some nascent progress in trying to get the parties to move from a military confrontation to a negotiating process," he said, "but what concerns us is that this fragile progress risks being outpaced by the alarming developments on the ground that threaten Ethiopia’s overall stability and unity.”