The U.S. State Department on Friday urged all Americans to leave Ethiopia “as soon as possible,” according to a security alert posted on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa.
The alert called the security situation in the country “very fluid.”
According to Reuters, a group of anti-government forces threatened to march into the capital city.
The State Department also warned Americans from traveling to the country on its travel advisory website, saying: “Do not travel to Ethiopia due to armed conflict, civil unrest, communications disruptions, crime, and the potential for terrorism and kidnapping in border areas.”
The warnings come as Ethiopia sinks deeper into a crisis sparked by an ongoing war in the country’s northern Tigray region.
The Ethiopian government declared a six-month state of emergency Wednesday and called on residents to defend their neighborhoods if rebels arrive in the capital.
“Our country is facing a grave danger to its existence, sovereignty and unity. And we can’t dispel this danger through the usual law enforcement systems and procedures,” Justice Minister Gedion Timothewos said during a state media briefing.
Debretsion Gebremichael, leader of the Tigray region, blamed the Ethiopian government and its allies for causing the suffering of the past year.
“The warmongers decided to continue with the war, and we entered into this war because the only option we had is to destroy our enemies by force,” he said.
Thursday marked the first anniversary of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s deployment of troops to Tigray in response to forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front seizing military bases a day earlier. The ensuing conflict has killed thousands of people, displaced several million from their homes and left 400,000 residents of Tigray facing famine, according to a July estimate by the U.N.
A joint investigation by the United Nations and the government-created Ethiopian Human Rights Commission published on Wednesday found that all sides in the conflict have committed human rights violations, including torturing civilians, gang rapes and arresting people based on ethnicity. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said some of those abuses may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Some information in this report came from Reuters.