Israel Evacuates Diplomats’ Families From Ethiopia as Rebel Forces Approach Capital

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A memorial for the victims of the Tigray conflict in Addis Ababa last week.
A memorial for the victims of the Tigray conflict in Addis Ababa last week.Credit: Eduardo Soteras /AFP

Israel has decided to repatriate some family members of diplomats in Ethiopia due to the escalation in fighting in the East African country, following similar decisions by other countries, including the United States.

The Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that diplomatic staff will stay to work in the embassy in Addis Ababa, but their families will return to Israel.

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Also on Saturday, the ministry issued an upgraded travel warning to Ethiopia, after the Ethiopian government declared a state of emergency.

“Following the escalation of fighting in Ethiopia and increased tension in the country, the Foreign Ministry recommends that Israeli citizens avoid travel to Ethiopia at this time. The Foreign Ministry recommends that Israelis in Ethiopia end their stay there in light of civil unrest, disruption and restriction of movement, communication, availability of products and perhaps even flights.”

Other countries have evacuated their diplomats and issued travel warnings to their citizens. The United States has ordered non-emergency government employees and their families to leave Ethiopia and urged other U.S. citizens to “depart now” as the country’s war escalates and fighters approach the capital of Addis Ababa.

“Incidents of civil unrest and ethnic violence are occurring without warning,” a statement on Saturday said, and it warns of possible communications blackouts and supply chain shortages.

The U.S. warning also comes a day after the U.S. special envoy for the Horn of Africa met with Ethiopia’s prime minister amid growing calls for an immediate cease-fire and talks.

Denmark and Italy also asked their citizens to leave while commercial flights were still operating. Canada on Sunday asked its citizens to consider leaving the country if their presence there was not essential.

On Friday, the Tigray forces who long dominated the national government before a falling-out with the current government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, signed an alliance with eight other armed and opposition groups. They said they are seeking a political transition but left open the possibility of using force to make Abiy go.