The United States has ordered non-emergency U.S. government employees in Ethiopia to leave because of armed conflict and civil unrest, its embassy in Addis Ababa said on Saturday.
Denmark and Italy also asked their citizens in Ethiopia to leave while commercial flights were still available, as rebellious Tigrayan forces and their allies have advanced towards the capital Addis Ababa.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government, which has been embroiled in a year-long war against Tigrayan forces, has promised to keep fighting despite calls for a ceasefire from African nations, Western states and the U.N. Security Council.
“Incidents of civil unrest and ethnic violence are occurring without warning. The situation may escalate further and may cause supply chain shortages, communications blackouts, and travel disruptions,” the U.S. Embassy said on its website.
Government spokesperson Legesse Tulu and Abiy’s spokesperson Billene Seyoum did not immediately respond to requests from Reuters for comment.
Municipal authorities in the capital ordered residents who own firearms to register their weapons this week, to bolster defences in case the city is attacked. Addis Ababa has registered more than 10,000 weapons, Yonas Zewde, a spokesperson for the city administration, told state broadcaster EBC on Saturday.
Abiy’s government declared a national state of emergency on Tuesday, saying it was locked in an “existential war” with forces from the northern Tigray region and their allies.
Getu Argaw, police commissioner for the capital, told EBC it was “only a dream” for the TPLF to think it could capture the city. He said police had confiscated weapons and uniforms from people in the capital.
Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) spokesperson Getachew Reda accused Abiy of using the state of emergency to arrest “thousands of Tigrayans and Oromos”.