(Al Jazeera) – The US says it is ‘gravely concerned’ about escalating violence and expansion of hostilities, repeating a call for ceasefire talks, as Tigrayan forces advance.
The US embassy in Ethiopia has authorised the voluntary departure of non-emergency government staff and family members because of armed conflict, it said on its website, as rebel forces in the country’s north make advances.
The decision came after the United States said on Wednesday it was “gravely concerned” about the escalating violence and expansion of hostilities, repeating a call for a halt to military operations in favour of ceasefire talks.
“The [State] Department authorised the voluntary departure of non-emergency US government employees and family members of emergency and non-emergency employees from Ethiopia due to armed conflict, civil unrest, and possible supply shortages,” the embassy said in a statement.
Travel to Ethiopia is unsafe and further escalation is likely, it said, adding “the government of Ethiopia has previously restricted or shut down internet, cellular data, and phone services during and after civil unrest”.
Government spokesman Legesse Tulu did not immediately respond to a telephone call seeking comment on the US embassy statement.
Speaking from Addis Ababa, independent journalist Samuel Getachew told Al Jazeera that US-Ethiopian relations have soured in recent weeks as the rebel Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has made advances.
“The Ethiopian government continues to accuse the US of siding with the TPLF. This comes in addition to plans to cancel a US-Ethiopia trade agreement that creates thousands of jobs in Ethiopia’s industrial parts,” he said.