Abbay Media News
Yoftahe Hailu & Yassin Ibrahim
The Department of State has upgraded the previous June 13, 2017 travel “advisory” to a travel “Warning” to U.S. citizens advising of the risks of travel to Ethiopia due to the increased potential for civil discontenting unrest as well as subjective detention.
Tuesday’s updated warning comes just months after Ethiopia was named one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 countries to visit in 2017. New airline routes and a concentrated effort to lure more North American travelers of late have helped to propel the country’s tourism industry.
Although travelers often confuse travel alerts and warnings or mistake them for the same thing, William Cocks, a spokesman for the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, reminds Americans that they are very different.
“We issue travel warnings when we want U.S. citizens to consider very carefully whether they should go to a country at all because of a chronic threat,” Cocks told USA Today in 2016.”
The Ethiopian government extended a state of emergency in March and unrest continues to be reported in the East African nation. Continued reports of unrest, predominantly in the Gondar region and Bahir Dar in Amhara State, and parts of Oromia State are signs that the Ethiopian Government are becoming increasingly uneasy of their obvious fading power and diplomatic influence over its citizens due to ignored cumulative citizen frustrations as well as unwillingness to address its citizen’s apprehensions and human rights.
Due to Government fear of Social Media being the platform for protest and opposition organizing, the Government of Ethiopia continues to demonstrate its ability and willingness to arbitrarily wipe out and shut down all internet, cellular data, and phone services, impeding the U.S. Embassy’s ability to communicate with U.S. citizens in Ethiopia and limiting the Embassy’s ability to provide consular services. Additionally, the Government of Ethiopia does not inform the U.S. Embassy of detentions or arrests of U.S. citizens in Ethiopia.
The State Department advises to avoid demonstrations and large gatherings, continuously assess your surroundings, and evaluate your personal level of safety. Be aware that the government may use force and live fire in response to demonstrations, and that even gatherings peaceful gatherings can be forcefully met with a violent response or turn violent without warning. U.S. citizens in Ethiopia should monitor their security situation and have contingency plans in place in case you need to depart suddenly.
Given the unpredictable security situation, U.S. citizens in Ethiopia should have alternate communication plans in place, and let family and friends know that communication may be limited while you are in Ethiopia. The Department of State strongly advises U.S. citizens to register your mobile number with the U.S. Embassy to receive security information via text or SMS, in addition to enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
It is a surprising and a long-awaited breath of fresh air as well as positive sign of advocacy for change to see the U.S. clearly call out and acknowledge the revulsion and malevolent strategies that the Ethiopian Administration is enforcing on its own people. Not only has the U.S. State Department changed the direction in which they view the turmoil that Ethiopian citizens are being forced to endure with their updated and increasing travel bans and warnings but, Great Britain, Canada and several other cooperating countries are following suit in multiple identical Travel warnings to its citizens. Shedding light and conviction on the one-sided dictator like governing and treatment of the Ethiopian people by its own Government is a step in the direction of a call to not just U.S., but Worldwide action and will hopefully put a stop to all the violence and war being handed down by placing a mirror of truth in front of the Ethiopian Government and invoke positive change that has been long awaited in what’s considered one of the birthplaces of all humanity.
Abbay Media did reach out to the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington DC for a comment on this issue. Unfortunately no reply, as we in the (media industry) are accustomed too.