By Faith Nyasuguta
Ethiopia’s US embassy has called on its citizens to consider vacating the warring nation.
The caution comes amid a declaration of a state of emergency after the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebels seized more territory in the northern region.
Further, the US embassy has barred its staffers from travelling outside Addis Ababa city limits.
“We strongly suggest that US citizens seriously reconsider travel to Ethiopia and those who are currently in Ethiopia consider making preparations to leave the country,” it said via a statement.
“The security environment in Ethiopia has deteriorated significantly in the last several days with a continued escalation of armed conflict and civil unrest in Amhara, Afar and Tigray. A significant portion of the A2 highway connecting Addis Ababa with cities to the north has been restricted by Federal authorities which has led to disruptions, stranded travelers, and a generally non-permissive travel environment,” the US embassy warned.
A day ago, Ethiopia ordered the residents of Addis Ababa to prepare to defend their neighbourhoods amid fears that Tigrayan rebels were heading for the capital.
The directive followed days of reported advances by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebel group, which has been locked in a brutal year-long war against Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s leadership..
“The state of emergency is aimed to protect civilians from atrocities being committed by the terrorist TPLF group in several parts of the country,” state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported.
Possible restrictions include a curfew, road closures and searches of “anyone suspected of collaborating with terror groups”, Fana said.
The measure also allows the authorities to conscript “any military age citizen who has weapons” or suspend any media outlets believed to be “giving moral support directly or indirectly” to the TPLF, Fana said.
It also reported that legislators were set to approve the state of emergency within 24 hours.
Addis Ababa officials on Tuesday announced new security measures for the city’s five million residents, requiring that all firearms be registered within two days.
“All residents must be organised by blocks and neighbourhoods to protect peace and security in their home area in coordination with security forces, who will coordinate activities with community police and law enforcers,” Kenea Yadeta, the chief of the city’s Peace and Security Administration Bureau said.
Yadeta added that young residents would be recruited to work with law enforcement, and that “all sections of society” ought to join hands to increase vigilance, for instance landlords and hotel owners checking IDs of tenants and guests.