Ethiopia declared a nationwide state of emergency on Tuesday, as the war intensified across the country after forces from Tigray Defence Forces controlled several cities.
The forces from northern Tigray and their allies ‘Oromo Liberation Army’ revealed that they are considering marching on the capital Addis Ababa.
The declaration came two days after the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed called on all citizens to take up arms to defend themselves against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
The state of emergency will remain in force for six months.
“The state of emergency is aimed to protect civilians from atrocities being committed by the terrorist TPLF group in several parts of the country,” state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported.
This comes on the one-year anniversary of Ahmed’s decision to send troops into Tigray to detain and disarm the TPLF.
The conflict has plunged around 400,000 people in Tigray into famine, killed thousands of civilians and forced more than 2.5 million people in the north to flee their homes.
On Tuesday, US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa said that Washington was alarmed by the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the north, including signs of famine, and urged all sides to find ways to de-escalate and let aid in.
Also on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden said that he plans to remove Ethiopia African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade agreement which gives it duty-free access to the United States. He cited “gross violations of internationally recognised human rights.”
Ethiopia’s trade ministry said it was “extremely disappointed” by the US move and called for a reversal by January.
“The Ethiopian government takes all human rights allegations seriously: we are looking at them and conducting investigations and we are committed to ensuring accountability,” it said.