Canada’s foreign minister on Friday urged citizens to immediately leave Ethiopia over concerns about security conditions in the war-hit country.
“Canada is very concerned by the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Ethiopia,” Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said in a statement.
Since November 18, she reminded, Ottawa has been asking Canadians to avoid all travel to Ethiopia.
“We are now asking Canadians who are already there to leave immediately if it is safe to do so,” she said, citing the possibility of commercial flight disruptions “should the situation continue to worsen.”
For now, Canada’s embassy in Addis Ababa remains open, but consular services are limited, officials said.
Ottawa’s notice to Canadians in Ethiopia comes after the United States and other nations told their citizens to leave the country amid fears that Tigrayan rebels could march on the capital.
The war erupted in November 2020 when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, sent troops into the Tigray region to topple its ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
He said the move was in response to TPLF attacks on federal army camps and promised a swift victory, but by late June the rebels had retaken most of Tigray, including its capital Mekele.
Since then, the TPLF has pushed into neighboring Amhara and Afar regions, and this week it claimed to have seized a town just 220 kilometers (135 miles) from Addis Ababa.
The civil war has left thousands dead and displaced more than two million people.
On Friday, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) said the number of people requiring food aid in the country’s north had surged to 9.4 million, while hundreds of thousands are on the brink of famine as aid workers struggle to deliver supplies in Tigray, Amhara, and Afar.