The United States Embassy in Ethiopia issued a warning to citizens on June 13 regarding underlying risks associated with travel to Ethiopia due to the potential for civil unrest and arbitrary detention. Unrest, particularly in Gondar and Bahir Dar in the Amhara region, continue to be reported.
Furthermore, the Embassy warns that “the Government of Ethiopia routinely restricts or shuts downs internet, cellular data, and phone services, impeding the US Embassy’s ability to communicate with US citizens in Ethiopia and limiting the Embassy’s ability to provide consular services.”
In October 2016, the Ethiopian government declared a nationwide state of emergency following months of anti-government protests, primarily concentrated in the Oromia region. The state of emergency took effect on October 8. On March 30, 2017, the Ethiopian parliament voted to extend the state of emergency for another four months, until July. The decision came two weeks after restrictions were relaxed on March 15, preventing the police from being allowed to make arrests or conduct house searches without a legal warrant. Reports indicated that some 25,000 people were arrested for taking part in protests while the state of emergency was in effect. Several thousand people have since been released, while others are still awaiting legal judgment for organizing protests. The Defense Minister declared that the extension of the emergency order was needed to bring “lasting peace,” while the opposition has accused the government of using it as a tool to clamp down on demonstrators.
Individuals present in Ethiopia are advised to monitor developments to the sociopolitical situation, to avoid all potential protests due to the possibility of violence, and to have alternative communication plans in place in anticipation of possible telecommunications blackouts.
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