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British urged to leave Ethiopia immediately “under any circumstances”

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Ethiopian military parade with national flags attached to their rifles during a rally organized by local authorities to show their support for the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF), in Meskel Square in downtown Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia (AP Photo, File)

The British government has urged the British in Ethiopia to leave the country immediately “regardless of their circumstances” amid the ongoing conflict.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) said routes out of the country may become “severely” limited and may not be available in the future.

It comes amid an ongoing conflict in the regional states of Tigray, Amhara and Afar in Ethiopia, with CTF saying the situation “is deteriorating rapidly”.

Africa Minister Vicky Ford said: “In the coming days we could see the fighting draw closer to Addis Ababa, which could seriously limit options for British nationals to leave Ethiopia.

“I urge all UK nationals – whatever their circumstances – to leave immediately, as commercial flights are readily available and Addis Ababa Bole International Airport remains open.

“Interest-free loans are available to help UK nationals return to the UK who might otherwise find it difficult to afford flights.

“Those who choose not to leave now should prepare to seek refuge in a place of safety over the next few weeks. We cannot guarantee that there will be options to leave Ethiopia in the future. “

The FCDO first advised the British to leave the country on November 9, when warned that the conflict “has the potential to escalate and spread quickly and with little warning.”

The number of UK nationals wishing to leave the country is believed to be in the hundreds, not the thousands, although the exact number is unclear.

Months of political tension between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray rulers who once dominated the country’s government led to conflict last year.

Ethnic Tigrayans across the country have since said they have been the target of arbitrary detentions, while civilians in the Tigray region have spoken of a number of abuses.

Ahmed declared a national state of emergency with sweeping powers of detention last month as rival forces from Tigray moved closer to the capital Addis Ababa.

The Ethiopian government has detained thousands of Tigrayans suspected of supporting rebel forces.