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13 Nov 2020 | 06:26 PM UTC

Ethiopia: UK FCDO advises against all travel to Tigray region and surrounding areas November 13 /update 7

Ethiopia News Alert

UK FCDO issues new travel advice on November 13 warning against all travel the Tigray region and surrounding areas; instability and conflict activity likely to continue in region in near term

TIMEFRAME expected from 11/13/2020, 12:00 AM until 11/16/2020, 11:59 PM (Africa/Addis_Ababa). COUNTRY/REGION Tigray

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Event

The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice for Ethiopia on Friday, November 13, warning against all travel to the entirety of the Tigray region and areas within 30km (19 miles) of the provincial border. The advice against all travel close to the Tigray region's borders with the Amhara and Afar regional states covers areas north of Gondar and west of Dalol, including parts of the Simien Mountains National Park and the Danakil Depression, although the most popular tourist sites remain outside of the new warning area.

The warning comes a day after the FCDO warned against all but essential travel within 20km (12 miles) of Sudan's border with Ethiopia. Sudanese authorities closed the border with Ethiopia on November 5 following the onset of hostilities in the Tigray region, but more than 14,500 displaced Ethiopian civilians are believed to have since crossed into the country amid the continued fighting in the region. On Friday, the border town of Al-Fashqa was reported to be hosting more than 7,000 refugees from the conflict.

Further military clashes are likely in the Tigray region in the medium term, with a realistic possibility of civilian harm in major flashpoint areas.

Context

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced that he had ordered a military offensive in the Tigray Region on November 4, after accusing security forces aligned with the regional Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) administration of attacking Ethiopian National Defense Forces' (ENDF) positions in the state. The operation follows two years of escalating tensions between the TPLF and the federal government in Addis Ababa, which they had previously dominated before the appointment of Abiy as prime minister in 2018, amid claims that the region was being marginalized by his sweeping reforms program. However, tensions reached a high point in September when the TPLF staged their own local elections in the Tigray region in defiance of a decision by the government to suspend national polls due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The federal government subsequently declared the vote illegal and the upper house of Ethiopia's parliament voted to withhold budgetary subsidies to Tigray in early October. Amid the rising tensions, regional authorities had issued a statement on November 3 accusing Addis Ababa of planning a war in the Tigray region.

Although no official casualty figures have been confirmed, fatalities are reported to have rapidly reached the hundreds and have been rising as fighting continues. As well as intense fighting in western areas of the region, particularly around Dansheha and Humera, there have also been allegations of attacks on civilians in some areas. On Thursday, November 12, rights group Amnesty International claimed that scores of civilians had been killed in the May Cadera area of the Tigray region on November 9, allegedly in a retaliatory attack by retreating TPLF-aligned forces. However, the incident has not been independently confirmed.

Advice

Those in the Tigray region are advised to monitor developments in their area of operations and liaise with appropriate consular authorities. Travelers should avoid the Tigray Region and northern areas of the Amhara region whilst hostilities continue and heed any directives issued by local authorities.

 

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