Panic in Addis Ababa amid escalating armed conflict between state and rebel forces

There is a cloud of uncertainty in Ethiopia as airlines out of Addis Ababa are reportedly fully booked, following the declaration of a six-month national state of emergency on Tuesday.

Reports from Addis Ababa on Wednesday said airlines departing from Addis Ababa were full as diplomats, government officials and Ethiopian citizens fled the city for fear of an imminent takeover by the rebels of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (TPLF).

Justice Minister Gedion Timothewos told a state press conference on Tuesday that the state of emergency was aimed at protecting civilians from the atrocities committed by TPLF rebels and urged citizens to stand up to them. prepare to defend the capital against any form of “terrorist” attack.

Timothewos warned that anyone suspected of having links to “terrorist” groups could be detained without a warrant, while anyone violating the state of emergency could face three to ten years in prison for offenses such as financial, material or moral support to “terrorist groups”. ‘

“Our country is facing a serious danger to its existence, its sovereignty and its unity. And we cannot dispel this danger through the usual law enforcement systems and procedures, ”the minister said, adding that any citizen who has reached the age of military service could be called upon to fight.

War erupted on November 4, 2020 between Ethiopia and rebels in the Tigray region seeking to separate from the country when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed allegedly ordered an offensive against regional forces in the northern Tigray region.

Government forces initially routed the rebels, but things changed in June with Tigrayan fighters making significant territorial gains and are now reportedly moving closer to the capital, Addis Ababa.

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The report of a joint investigation by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the United Nations Human Rights Office released on Wednesday revealed varying degrees of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by all parties to the conflict in Tigray.

He examined the devastating impact of the conflict on civilians and detailed a range of violations and abuses, including unlawful killings and extrajudicial killings, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, violations against refugees and displacement. forced civilians.

“This report provides an opportunity for all parties to recognize their responsibility and to commit to taking concrete steps in terms of accountability, redress for the victims and the search for a lasting solution to end the suffering of millions. people, ”said EHRC Chief Commissioner Daniel Bekele.

Meanwhile, the United States has issued a security alert over the continuing escalation of armed conflict and civil unrest in Amhara, Afar and Tigray and has banned U.S. Embassy staff from traveling outside the confines of the United States. city ​​of Addis Ababa.

“We strongly suggest that US citizens seriously reconsider their trip to Ethiopia and that those currently in Ethiopia consider preparing to leave the country. If you are a U.S. citizen, or have a U.S. citizen family member, in Ethiopia, please register your presence in Ethiopia with us immediately at[email protected]”, says the press release.

The United Nations has called for a lasting ceasefire on both sides.

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