An Ethiopian Airlines airliner waits at Bole International Airport in the country's capital of Addis Ababa. The U.S. State Department ordered non-emergency personnel to leave in response to escalating conflict in the country. File Photo by EPA-EFE
Nov. 6 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department on Saturday ordered its non-emergency employees and their family members to leave Ethiopia in response to escalating armed conflict, civil unrest and possible supply shortages.
The order comes a day after the department advised all United States citizens to leave the country as soon as possible because of fighting between the Ethiopian central government and rebels based in the country's northern Tigray region.
On Saturday, the department issued a more dire warning to citizens.
"The U.S. Embassy is unlikely to be able to assist U.S. citizens in Ethiopia with departure if commercial options become unavailable," the department said in the security alert. "Although seats on commercial flights currently remain available, we cannot predict when demand will exceed capacity."
The department warned that the turmoil could increase, leading to supply chain shortages, communication blackouts and travel disruptions. The Ethiopian government declared a state of emergency Tuesday as rebel forces advanced toward the capital. Earlier, the government restricted or shut down the Internet, cellular data and phone services during civil unrest.
Those restrictions have hampered the ability of the U.S. Embassy to communicate with and provide services to citizens in the country. The U.S. Embassy currently remains open but has limited ability to provide services to citizens outside of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
Earlier in the week, the United Nations Human Rights Office released a report finding that both Tigrayan militants and Ethiopian forces committed atrocities during the yearlong conflict.