Leave Ethiopia now before it’s too late as we will not send the military to evacuate you like in Afghanistan, Biden officials tell U.S. citizens

Briefing reporters from Washington DC, two senior state department officials said U.S. citizens in Ethiopia who expect the military to be sent in at the last minute might be disappointed.

The Biden administration on Monday afternoon called on U.S. citizens one more time to leave Ethiopia immediately while commercial flights remain available, warning that soldiers will not be sent in for mass evacuations like in Afghanistan.

Briefing reporters from Washington DC, two senior state department officials said U.S. citizens in Ethiopia who expect the military to be sent in at the last minute might be disappointed.

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali 
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali

The officials said those who cannot afford to pay for their flights and those who may not have their travel documents ready should reach out to the Embassy jn Addis Ababa for help.

Their call came on the same day Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali said he would be ready to go to the battlefront and fight and urged Ethiopian citizens to defend their motherland.

The calls by Abiy for citizens to fight and from the United States for Americans to leave seem to be another indication that things continue to worsen in Ethiopia where the yearlong conflict has left thousands of people dead and tens of thousands displaced.

One administration official confirmed that some U.S. citizens have been detained by the Ethiopian government and called for their release.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Kenyan Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo lead U.S.-Kenya 2nd Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday, November 17, 2021. 
U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Kenyan Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo lead U.S.-Kenya 2nd Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday, November 17, 2021.

Both officials said the United States continues to call for cessation of hostilities and for negotiations to begin, reasserting that there is no military solution to the raging war.

“Our core message is: Do not wait until the situation gets worse to decide to leave; leave before things change.  Department of State personnel go to great lengths to assist U.S. citizens in crisis as long as it is safe to do so. The U.S. embassy is unlikely to be able to assist U.S. citizens in Ethiopia with departure if commercial options become unavailable,” Senior State Department Official One said.

The official added, “As we said in our alerts, which are sent via email to all U.S. citizens who have registered with us via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program and are also posted to Embassy Addis Ababa’s website, U.S. citizens wishing to depart Ethiopia currently have multiple options via commercial flights from Bole International Airport.  U.S. citizens having difficulty securing a flight or who need assistance to return to the United States should please contact AddisACS@state.gov for guidance. 

TIGRAYAN FORCES 

“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.  If a U.S. citizen is delaying their departure because their non-U.S. citizen spouse or minor children do not have immigrant visas or U.S. passports, please, contact the embassy immediately.  Similarly, if a non-U.S. citizen parent of a U.S. citizen minor does not have a valid U.S. visa or other document valid for entry to the United States, please, contact the embassy immediately.  We can provide these services now, but we cannot predict when and if conditions might change.  Again, now is the time to reach out to the embassy for departure assistance.

“There are no plans to fly the U.S. military into Ethiopia to facilitate evacuations or replicate the contingency effort we recently undertook in Afghanistan, which was a unique situation for many reasons.  There should be no expectation, particularly after we have issued so many warnings that advise departing immediately, that the U.S. will be able to facilitate evacuations via military or commercial aircraft in a non-permissive environment, including Ethiopia. 

“Again, we recommend that U.S. citizens in Ethiopia leave now while commercial flights are still available and while it is safe to do so.  Contact the embassy now if you need assistance in leaving and encourage your family members and friends still in Ethiopia to do the same.”

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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