Biden administration orders immediate departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees and their family members from Ethiopia as conflict rages

The new travel advisory urged Americans not to travel to Ethiopia "due to armed conflict, civil unrest, communications disruptions, crime, and the potential for terrorism and kidnapping in border areas."

The U.S. Department of State on Friday ordered the immediate departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees and their family members from Ethiopia. The new travel advisory replaced the previous travel advisory issued on November 3, 2021.

The new travel advisory urged Americans not to travel to Ethiopia “due to armed conflict, civil unrest, communications disruptions, crime, and the potential for terrorism and kidnapping in border areas.”  

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken recognizes Dulles Operation Allies Welcome staff, at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on October 13, 2021. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ 
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken recognizes Dulles Operation Allies Welcome staff, at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on October 13, 2021. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/

  Below is the full text of the updated travel advisory:

Do not travel to Ethiopia due to armed conflict, civil unrest, communications disruptions, crime, and the potential for terrorism and kidnapping in border areas.  

The Department of State urges U.S citizens in Ethiopia to depart now using commercially available options. 

The U.S. Embassy is unlikely to be able to assist U.S. citizens in Ethiopia with departure if commercial options become unavailable. Although seats on commercial flights currently remain available, we cannot predict when demand will exceed capacity. 

Travel to Ethiopia is unsafe due to the ongoing armed conflict. Incidents of civil unrest and ethnic violence are occurring without warning. The situation may escalate further and may cause supply chain shortages, communications blackouts and travel disruptions. The Ethiopian government declared a state of emergency on November 2, 2021. 

On November 5, the Department ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees and their family members from Ethiopia due to armed conflict, civil unrest, and possible supply shortages. 

At this time, the Embassy remains open and able to process U.S. passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad for those preparing to depart. The Embassy can also provide a repatriation loan for U.S. citizens who cannot afford at this time to purchase a commercial ticket to the United States. Please contact the Embassy’s American Citizen Services Unit at AddisACS@state.gov for further information. 

Those planning to remain should ensure they have sufficient provisions stocked to shelter in place. 

The Government of Ethiopia has previously restricted or shut down internet, cellular data, and phone services during and after civil unrest. These restrictions impede the U.S. Embassy’s ability to communicate with, and provide consular services to, U.S. citizens in Ethiopia. 

The U.S. Embassy has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside of Addis Ababa. U.S. Embassy personnel are currently restricted from traveling outside of Addis Ababa city limits. 

Read the country information page

If you are currently in Ethiopia or plan to travel to Ethiopia: 

  • Have a personal emergency action plan that does not rely on U.S. government assistance. 
  • Take advantage of commercial transportation options, if you wish to depart Ethiopia. 
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. 
  • See the U.S. Embassy’s web page regarding COVID-19.  
  • Visit the CDC’s webpage on Travel and COVID-19
  • Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas
  • Draft a will, and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney. 
  • Discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, etc. 
  • Share important documents, login information, and points of contact with loved ones so that they can manage your affairs if you are unable to return as planned to the United States. Find a suggested list of such documents here
  • Establish your own personal security plan in coordination with your employer or host organization, or consider consulting with a professional security organization. 
  • Develop a communication plan with family and/or your employer or host organization so that they can monitor your safety and location as you travel through high-risk areas. This plan should specify whom you would contact first and how they should share the information. 
  • Identify key sources of possible assistance for you and your family in case of emergency, such as the local U.S. embassy or consulate, FBI, the State Department, your employer (if traveling on business), and local friends/family in the high-risk area.  
  • Be sure to appoint one family member to serve as the point of contact with hostage-takers, media, U.S. and host country government agencies, and Members of Congress if you are taken hostage or detained. 
  • Establish a proof of life protocol with your loved ones so that, if you are taken hostage, your loved ones will know specific questions and answers to ask the hostage-takers to be sure you are alive and to rule out a hoax. 
  • Leave DNA samples with your medical provider in case it is necessary for your family to access them. 
  • Guard your passport and wallet when in crowded outdoor areas and open-air markets. 
  • Be vigilant for pickpockets, especially at night. 
  • Use all available safety measures in your home or hotel, including locking doors and windows at all times, and setting the alarm. 
  • If asked to stop by police, stop only in well-lit areas or places where several officers are posted. 
  • Erase any sensitive photos, comments, or other materials from your social media pages, cameras, laptops, and other electronic devices that could be considered controversial or provocative by local groups. 

Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.    

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Ethiopia due to COVID-19, indicating a high level of COVID-19 in the country. Your risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing severe symptoms may be lower if you are fully vaccinated with an FDA authorized vaccine. Before planning any international travel, please review the CDC’s specific recommendations for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.  

Visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 and related restrictions and conditions in Ethiopia. 

Last Update: Reissued with updates to the ordered departure status and information on flights. 

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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