Sri Lankans in Ethiopian war zone successfully evacuated

Sri Lankans in Ethiopian war zone successfully evacuated

The Sri Lanka Embassy in Ethiopia has successfully facilitated the evacuation of 38 Sri Lankan nationals from the war zone in Tigray region in the northern part of Ethiopia.

The evacuation was carried out in consultation with the Foreign Ministry of Sri Lanka and the United Nations in Ethiopia, the Embassy said in a statement.

The Sri Lankan nationals, along with foreign nationals belonging to a number of countries, were evacuated by United Nations convoys from Tigray to the Afar region of Ethiopia and have subsequently been transported to the capital Addis Ababa.

Evacuated Sri Lankan nationals, all employed in the apparel industry in Ethiopia, are due to be repatriated back to Sri Lanka soon.

The Government of Ethiopia had commenced military operations in the Tigray region on the 4th of November after regional forces belonging to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) attacked a federal army base.

The conflict is a result of the longstanding tension between the Ethiopian central government and the TPLF, a dominant force in the country’s politics for nearly 30 years, after it ousted the military government of Mengistu Hailemariam in 1991 in a protracted armed struggle.

After Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018, he had introduced a series of extensive reforms. He postponed a national election in June due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic and the relations between the central government and the TPLF further deteriorated.

The TPLF accuses Prime Minister Abiy of violating the constitution by delaying the elections and staying in power even after the government’s mandate to rule expired.

Tigray’s regional leaders held an election in defiance of the parliament’s decision to postpone elections, in which the governing the TPLF won all seats. However, the parliament later declared the election results null and void.

On the 4th of November, Prime Minister Abiy launched an operation against the TPLF, accusing them of attacking the army’s northern command headquarters in Mekelle.

-with inputs from agencies