The UN will evacuate by Thursday the families of its international employees in Ethiopia while France calls on its nationals to leave the country “without delay”, where fighting is approaching the capital after more than a year of war between government and rebel forces in the north of the country.
An internal document from the UN security services, dated Monday and consulted on Tuesday by AFP, asks the organization to “coordinate the evacuation and ensure that all eligible family members of personnel recruited to the foreigners leave Ethiopia no later than November 25, 2021. “
At the same time, “all French nationals are formally called upon to leave the country without delay,” said the French embassy in Addis Ababa in an email sent to members of the French community.
Before France, several countries including the United Kingdom and the United States, have urged their citizens to leave Ethiopia, where the international community is failing to obtain a ceasefire.
The French embassy, which says it has taken this decision in view of “the evolution of the military situation”, adds plans to facilitate the departure of nationals on commercial flights by reserving seats and “if necessary” to charter a charter flight .
According to the embassy, more than 1,000 French people live in Ethiopia.
An embassy official told AFP that “voluntary” departures of staff could take place, especially among families.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent the federal army to Tigray in early November 2020 in order to remove the authorities in this region, from the Tigray Liberation Front (TPLF), who challenged his authority and whom he accused of having attacked military bases.
Mr. Abiy, Nobel Peace Prize 2019, proclaimed victory three weeks later, after the capture of the regional capital Mekele. But in June, pro-TPLF fighters regained most of Tigray and continued their offensive in the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar.
At the end of October, the TPLF claimed responsibility for the capture of two key cities in Amhara, thus moving closer to the capital – which the Ethiopian government denied.
The TPLF, which has allied itself with an Oromo rebel group active in the area around the capital, claimed to be in Shewa Robit, 220 km northeast of Addis Ababa.
The government has not commented on this information.
According to diplomats, some rebel fighters have reached the locality of Debre Sina, closer to about 30 km from the capital.
Officials in Addis Ababa said in a briefing with diplomats that security forces, which include youth groups, are working to keep the capital safe.
“The propaganda and speeches of terror disseminated by the Western media fully contradict the peaceful state of the city, so the diplomatic community should not be worried or afraid,” said Kenea Yadeta, Addis Ababa bureau chief. for peace and security.
– “At the front” –
On Monday, Mr. Abiy said he wanted to go to the front lines to lead the soldiers facing the rebels.
“From tomorrow, I will be mobilized on the front lines to lead the armed forces,” he said in a statement posted on Twitter. “Those who want to be among the Ethiopian children who will be greeted by history, stand up for the country today. Let’s meet at the front.”
On Tuesday, the heads of state of South Africa and Kenya, Cyril Ramaphosa and Uhuru Kenyatta, reiterated the call for a ceasefire during a meeting in Pretoria.
The US envoy for Ethiopia, Jeffrey Feltman, told him Tuesday “of” nascent progress “towards a diplomatic resolution of the conflict, but warned that the military” escalation “risked making it in vain. was speaking back from a new mission in Addis Ababa.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently warned of the risk of Ethiopia “imploding” if no political solution is found.
In addition, according to the UN, hundreds of thousands of people are on the verge of famine in Tigray due to the conflict, which has also claimed thousands of lives and more than two million displaced.
The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) announced on Tuesday in Geneva the launch of a “major” humanitarian aid operation to help more than 450,000 people in the north, in Dessie and Kombolcha.