Tension mounts as foreigners leave Ethiopia

The United Nations has ordered the evacuation of family members of its international staff from Ethiopia, as fighting escalates between the government and ethnic minority forces.

The conflict between Ethiopian government troops and Tigrayan forces in the northern region of the country has continued since November last year. The government declared a state of emergency on November 2.

AFP news agency and other media reported that Tigrayan forces are stepping up their offensive. Fighters reportedly took control of a town about 220 kilometers northeast of the capital Addis Ababa earlier this week.

A UN spokesperson said Tuesday that international staff would continue to support operations in the country, but hundreds of family members will be “temporarily” relocated.

The US government called on its citizens to leave Ethiopia immediately on November 16. France and Germany took similar steps on Tuesday.

Japan’s foreign ministry is urging its nationals in Addis Ababa and across the country to consider leaving. Officials said about 210 Japanese citizens were in Ethiopia in early November, many of whom have since left the country.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced on social media that he would go to the front lines to lead government forces. The situation remains tense as both sides show no signs of easing.

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