(Al Jazeera) More countries have told their nationals to leave Ethiopia, where an intensifying one-year war between federal troops and forces from the northern Tigray region appears to be taking a dramatic new turn.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed late on Monday announced he would head to the front line on Tuesday to lead his soldiers, declaring: “We are now in the final stages of saving Ethiopia.”
On Tuesday, France advised its citizens to leave Ethiopia “without delay”. Germany also called on its citizens to leave the country on the first available commercial flights, following similar advisories by the United States and the United Kingdom in recent weeks, citing a deteriorating security situation.
Meanwhile, the United Nations said it was “temporarily relocating” families of international staff from Ethiopia, adding that its personnel would remain in the country.
“We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves, keeping in mind the safety of our staff and the need to continue to stand and deliver and to continue operations and support all the people that need our assistance,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday.
The moves came as the Tigrayan forces claimed in recent weeks to be moving closer to the capital, Addis Ababa.
Much of northern Ethiopia is under a communications blackout and access for journalists is restricted, making battlefield claims difficult to corroborate.
But officials in Addis Ababa insisted on Tuesday that security forces, including youth groups, were working to ensure the capital’s peace and stability and told the diplomatic community not to worry. The government, which has declared a six-month state of emergency, has previously also accused their rivals of exaggerating their territorial gains.
“The propaganda and terror talk being disseminated by the Western media fully contradicts the peaceful state of the city on the ground, so the diplomatic community shouldn’t feel any worry or fear,” said Kenea Yadeta, head of the Addis Ababa Peace and Security Bureau.
Samuel Getachew, an independent journalist in Addis Ababa, told Al Jazeera the capital was “a city that is quiet at night” amid the ongoing state of emergency.
“There are many people that are fleeing Addis Ababa, including French and Turkish citizens,” he said, noting that Abiy’s announcement that he was heading to the front line “was a shock to many people”.
“Both sides are willing to fight to the end, use military power to solve the differences,” he added. “Many allegations going back and forth between the two sides.”