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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict: Foreigners advised to leave


Germany and France have become the latest countries to advise their citizens to leave Ethiopia, amid an escalation in the country’s civil war.

The United States and the United Kingdom have also issued advisories, and the UN has begun what it describes as a temporary relocation of some staff.

This comes as rebel Tigrayan fighters claim to be advancing on the Ethiopian capital, Addis Abeba.

PM Abiy Ahmed has stated that he will go to the front lines to confront the insurgents.

The year-long conflict has resulted in a humanitarian crisis, with hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians facing famine-like conditions in the north.

Thousands of people have been killed, and millions have been displaced.

According to US Special Envoy Jeffrey Feltman, progress toward a diplomatic solution is being made, but this is being jeopardised by the escalation on the ground.

He claimed that both sides appeared to be on the verge of a military victory.

Mr. Feltman warned that a rebel attack on Addis Abeba would be unacceptable and disastrous.

Reports from the front lines are difficult to verify, but the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) claims to control a town about 200 kilometres from Addis Abeba.

Previously, the Ethiopian government denied reports of rebel advances.

‘Let’s meet at the front’

Germany’s foreign ministry advised its citizens to board the first commercial flights available, while France urged its citizens to leave the country “as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, according to an internal United Nations security document, “eligible family members of internationally recruited staff” should be evacuated by November 25.

Previously, the United States and the United Kingdom announced the withdrawal of non-essential diplomatic personnel and the expulsion of other citizens.

In a social media post on Monday evening, Nobel Peace Prize winner Abiy Ahmed said he would go to the front lines to lead the defence forces.

“Rise up for your country today if you want to be among the Ethiopian children who will be remembered by history. Let’s meet at the front, please “He stated.

His Nobel Prize came after nearly two decades of tension with Eritrea, which had persisted since the end of the two countries’ war.

The TPLF has dismissed Mr Abiy’s statement, with Getachew Reda, its spokesperson, saying that “our forces will not relent on their inexorable advance toward breaking [Mr Abiy’s] chokehold on our people.”

The African Union is leading efforts to bring the fighting to a negotiated end, but neither side has committed to talks.

The conflict stems from a schism between Prime Minister Abiy and the TPLF, which ruled the entire country for nearly 27 years, not just Tigray.

Mr Abiy came to power in 2018, and the TPLF was sidelined in a whirlwind of reform in which he liberalised politics and made peace with long-time foe Eritrea.

A year ago, a simmering conflict between the TPLF and Mr Abiy erupted into war when Tigrayan forces were accused of attacking army bases to steal weapons, prompting the federal government to respond.

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