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The UN will evacuate the families of its international employees in Ethiopia on Thursday while France asks its nationals to leave the country “without delay”, where the fighting approaches the capital after more than a year of war between the government and the rebel forces in the north. from the country.
Evacuations increase before the fighting. The United Nations (UN) wants to evacuate the families of its employees located in Ethiopia before Thursday, November 25, while France also asked all its nationals on Tuesday, November 23, to leave the country “without delay.” Tigray and federal government forces, approaching the capital Addis Ababa after a year of war.
An internal document of the UN security services, dated Monday 22 and consulted on Tuesday 23 November by AFP, asks the organization to “coordinate the evacuation and make sure that all eligible members of the families of the personnel recruited from abroad to leave Ethiopia by 25 November at the latest. ” , 2021 “.
At the same time, “all French citizens are formally called to leave the country without delay,” the French embassy in Addis Ababa said in an email sent to members of the French community.
Before France, several countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, have urged their citizens to leave Ethiopia, where the international community is not achieving a ceasefire.
The French embassy, which claims to have made this decision due to “the evolution of the military situation”, adds plans to facilitate the departure of nationals on commercial flights by reserving seats and “if necessary” charter a charter flight.
According to the embassy, more than 1,000 French people live in Ethiopia. An embassy official told AFP that there could be “voluntary” departures of personnel, especially among families.
While the US envoy for Ethiopia, Jeffrey Feltman, reported “incipient progress” toward a diplomatic resolution to the conflict on Tuesday, he warned that military “escalation” ran the risk of doing so in vain. “What worries us is that the alarming events on the ground are moving faster than this fragile progress,” he told reporters after returning from a new mission in Addis Ababa.
Rebel forces 30 km from the capital?
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent the federal army to Tigray in early November 2020 to dismiss the authorities in this region, from the Tigray Liberation Front (TPLF), who challenged his authority and accused him of having attacked bases. military.
The 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner declared victory three weeks later, following the capture of the regional capital, Mekele. But in June, pro-TPLF fighters recaptured most of Tigray and continued their offensive in neighboring Amhara and Afar regions.
In late October, the TPLF claimed responsibility for the capture of two key cities in Amhara, thus closing in on the capital, which the Ethiopian government denied.
The TPLF, which has allied with an Oromo rebel group active in the area around the capital, claimed this week to be in Shewa Robit, 220 km northeast of Addis Ababa.
The government has not commented on this information.
According to diplomats familiar with the security situation, some rebel fighters have reached the town of Debre Sina, some 30 km from the capital.
Abiy Ahmed’s war speech worries the international community
On Monday, Abiy Ahmed said he wanted to go to the front to lead the soldiers who are facing the rebels.
“Starting tomorrow, they will mobilize me at the front to lead the armed forces,” the prime minister said in a statement posted on Twitter. “Those who want to be among Ethiopian children who will be greeted by history, defend the country today. Let us meet at the front.”
This statement should not reassure the international community, which in recent weeks has intensified its diplomatic efforts to try to obtain a ceasefire agreement.
On Tuesday, the heads of state of South Africa and Kenya, Cyril Ramaphosa and Uhuru Kenyatta, reiterated the call for a ceasefire during a meeting in Pretoria.
“The parties to the conflict must urgently commit to an immediate, unlimited and negotiated ceasefire,” said the South African president.
For his part, the AU envoy for the Horn of Africa, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, and his US counterpart Jeffrey Feltman visited Ethiopia again last Thursday.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently warned of the risk of Ethiopia “imploding” if a political solution is not found.
In addition, according to the UN, hundreds of thousands of people are on the brink of famine in Tigray due to the conflict, which has also claimed thousands of lives and more than two million displaced.
The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) announced in Geneva on Tuesday the launch of a “major” humanitarian aid operation to help more than 450,000 people in the north, in Dessie and Kombolcha.
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