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‘Depart Ethiopia now before things change,’ US officials warn American citizens

“There are no plans to fly the US military into Ethiopia to facilitate evacuations or replicate the contingency effort we recently undertook in Afghanistan, which was a unique situation for many reasons,” a senior State Department official said.

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Washington heightened its warning to US citizens in Ethiopia on Monday, urging Americans to leave the war-torn country as soon as possible.

“Our core message is do not wait until the situation gets worse to decide to leave. Leave before things change,” a senior State Department official said in a phone call.

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Speaking to journalists on condition of anonymity, the official said there were no plans to fly the US military into Ethiopia to facilitate evacuations or “replicate the contingency effort we recently undertook in Afghanistan.”

“The US Embassy is unlikely to be able to assist US citizens in Ethiopia with departure if commercial options become unavailable,” the official said.

The official was unable to say how many US citizens were in Ethiopia.

US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman returned to Washington from Ethiopia over the weekend. While there, he met with senior Ethiopian government officials and held productive meetings, State Department Spokesman Ned Price said earlier.

“We have continued to call for the parties to engage in diplomacy in furtherance of a cessation of hostilities, just as we have reiterated the calls of the international community for an end to the human rights abuses and violations that we’ve seen,” Price said.

Earlier this month, the US sanctioned Eritrea’s military and the country’s leading political party for their role in blocking progress on a solution to the war in neighboring Ethiopia.

US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman meets with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Cairo, May 5, 2021. (AP)
US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman meets with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Cairo, May 5, 2021. (AP)

The US also threatened to impose sanctions on Ethiopia’s government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) if there was no progress on a ceasefire.

TPLF fighters and other armed groups have been engaged in fierce fighting with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government for over a year.

Read more: US sanctions Eritrea’s military, president’s political party for conflict in Ethiopia