Ethiopia: the UN, France and the US urge the families of their employees to leave the country

On Tuesday, the UN, France, the United States and Germany urged their citizens to leave Ethiopia in response to increased fighting between Tigray’s forces and the central government. The war between these sides began in November 2020, when Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s prime minister, ordered an offensive against the PFLT, the party that ruled the region at the time. Since then, the violence and tension have increased.

This Tuesday, the United Nations (UN) expressed its desire to evacuate the families of its employees who are in Ethiopia before Thursday, November 25. This, given the increase in fighting between the forces of Tigray and the Ethiopian Government.

In an internal document of the UN security services drawn up on Monday 22, the organization called for “coordinating the evacuation and ensuring that all eligible family members of personnel recruited abroad leave Ethiopia at the latest. on November 25 “.

In addition, Stephane Dujarric, the UN spokesman, assured that they are “temporarily relocating the families of international personnel from Ethiopia due to the security situation”, although “the UN personnel would remain in the country.”

Dujarric added that “we will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves, taking into account the safety of our personnel and the need to remain unemployed and delivered and continue operations and support all the people who need our help.”

France also proceeded to do the same. Through an email, the French embassy in Addis Ababa, the capital, urged its nationals to withdraw from the African country immediately. “All French citizens are formally called to leave the country without delay,” it read. And it assured that the decision was taken before “the evolution of the military situation”.

In addition, the embassy promised to facilitate the departure of the more than 1,000 French living in Ethiopia through commercial flights and, if necessary, on charter flights. Finally, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommended not to travel to the African country, as well as to make stops in Addis Ababa.

The US State Department also asked its citizens to leave Ethiopian territory. This, despite the fact that on Tuesday, the United States envoy for Ethiopia, Jeffrey Feltman, reported “incipient progress towards a diplomatic resolution of the conflict.” However, he assured that “what worries us is that the alarming events on the ground are moving faster than this fragile progress.”

Germany followed in the footsteps of the UN, France and the US, urging its citizens to leave Ethiopia on the first available commercial flights.

Abiy Ahmed pledged to fight on the battlefield and alarmed the international community

Last Monday, Abiy Ahmed, the prime minister of Ethiopia, pledged to fight on the battlefield against the rebels in the Ethiopian region of Tigray. This, after the forces of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (FPLT) conquered last weekend the city of Shewa Robit, in the neighboring region of Amhara, about 220 kilometers from the Ethiopian capital.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, photographed on October 4, 2021, asked Ethiopians to meet him “at the front” of the conflict. © Amanuel Sileshi / AFP / Archive

He did so through a statement posted on his Twitter account. “Now is the time our country needs to sacrifice itself. Starting tomorrow (today, Tuesday), I will march to the battlefields to lead the national defense forces.”

The 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner also invited his compatriots to join the fight. “Those who want to be among the Ethiopian children who will be greeted by history, defend the country today,” he wrote. He added that “it is a fight that determines whether we live or not. But we will definitely win. It is unthinkable that Ethiopia will be defeated.”

This statement disturbed the international community, especially the presidents of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, and of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta. “We are very alarmed by the unfolding situation in Ethiopia and by the consequences this may have on stability in the region,” Ramaphosa said.

The South African president also stressed that “there is an urgent need for all parties to the conflict to commit to an immediate, indefinite and negotiated ceasefire and an inclusive political dialogue to begin the complicated work of forging a lasting resolution to political divisions and ethnic groups of the country “.

For his part, Kenyatta asked his “brothers in Ethiopia to work together, lower their arms and understand that the best way to solve problems is dialogue.”

Meanwhile, Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, warned about the possibility of Ethiopia “imploding” if a political solution is not found.

While the US State Department stated that “terrorists can attack (…) diplomatic buildings, tourist places, transportation centers, markets and shopping centers, Western companies, restaurants, local government facilities and other public areas”.

Tension increases in Ethiopia over the war between the central government and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray

The decisions and reactions mentioned above respond to the fear that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (PFLT) may take over the Ethiopian capital. The rebels recently conquered the city of Shewa Robit, about 220 kilometers from Addis Ababa. And according to diplomats familiar with the security situation, “some rebel fighters have reached the town of Debre Sina, some 30 km from the capital.”

At the end of October this year, the TPLF claimed to have taken two key cities in Amhara, but the Ethiopian government denied it. By June, pro-TPLF fighters had retaken most of Tigray.

FILE - Dozens of people stand in front of clouds of black smoke after an airstrike in Mekele, the capital of the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia, on October 20, 2021.

FILE – Dozens of people stand in front of clouds of black smoke after an airstrike in Mekele, the capital of the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia, on October 20, 2021. AP

However, the high tension dates back to November 4, 2020, when Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered an offensive against the FPLT, the party that ruled the region at the time. This, in retaliation for an attack on a federal military base and after an escalation of political tensions. It was there that the war between these parties began.

According to the UN, since then, thousands of people have died, some two million have been internally displaced in Tigray and hundreds of thousands of people are on the brink of famine.

The AU’s special envoy for the Horn of Africa, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, has held talks with the leaders of both sides. However, they have not borne fruit so far.

With EFE and Reuters

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Ethiopia: the UN, France and the US urge the families of their employees to leave the country