The Ethiopian federal government declared a nationwide state of emergency Tuesday, as its battle with Tigrayan forces reaches the one-year mark and fighting has escalated in northern Ethiopia.
“The Council of Ministers has a declared nationwide state of emergency effective Tuesday, November 2, 2021,” read a statement posted by state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate S.C. on its Twitter account.
The statement says the House of Peoples Representatives is expected to approve the state of emergency within 24 hours.
Reuters quoted the government Tuesday saying the Tigray People’s Liberation Front is gaining territory and considering marching on the country’s capital, Addis Ababa. Residents of the capital were told to register their weapons and prepare to defend the city.
The federal government of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been fighting TPLF forces in Tigray for the past year. The fighters were able to take control of the province when government forces withdrew in June, and since then fighting has expanded to the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar, displacing thousands of people and worsening a severe hunger crisis.
Speaking Tuesday at Washington-based think tank U.S. Institute for Peace, U.S. Horn of Africa special envoy Jeffrey Feltman said as many as 900,000 people in Tigray are facing famine-like conditions, while 90% of the population is in need of aid.
He said the most serious obstacle to getting food, medicine and other critical assistance to them is the federal government, which imposes bureaucratic obstacles and last month expelled seven senior U.N. humanitarian and human rights officials.