Britons urged to leave Ethiopia immediately ‘whatever their circumstance’

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has said routes out of the country could become ‘severely’ limited.

Ethiopia Tigray Crisis
Ethiopia Tigray Crisis

The UK Government has urged Britons in Ethiopia to leave the country immediately “whatever their circumstance” amid ongoing conflict.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) said routes out of the country could become “severely” limited and may not be available in the future.

It comes amid an ongoing conflict in the Tigray, Amhara and Afar regional states of Ethiopia, with the FCDO declaring the situation is “deteriorating quickly”.

Minister for Africa Vicky Ford said: “In the coming days we may see the fighting move closer to Addis Ababa, which could severely limit options for British nationals to leave Ethiopia.

“I am urging all British nationals – whatever their circumstance – to leave immediately, while commercial flights are readily available and Addis Ababa Bole International Airport remains open.

“Interest-free loans are available to help British nationals to return to the UK who may otherwise struggle to afford flights.

“Those who choose not to leave now should make preparations to shelter in a place of safety over the coming weeks. We cannot guarantee there will be options to leave Ethiopia in the future.”

The FCDO first advised Britons to leave the country on November 9, when it was warned the conflict “has the potential to escalate and spread quickly and with little warning”.

It is believed the number of British nationals who may wish to leave the country is expected to be in the hundreds not the thousands, though the exact number is not clear.

Months of political tensions between Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, and the Tigray leaders who once dominated the nation’s government led to conflict last year.

Ethnic Tigrayans across the country have since reported being targeted with arbitrary detentions, while civilians in the Tigray region have spoken of a number of abuses.

Ahmed declared a national state of emergency with sweeping detention powers last month as the rival Tigray forces moved closer to the capital of Addis Ababa.

The Ethiopian government has detained thousands of Tigrayans suspected of supporting the rebel forces.

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