Ethiopia says its airspace is safe after US warning

Ethiopia said, on Friday, that its airspace is safe, after a warning from the United States about the risks to civilian aircraft due to the escalation of the conflict in the country.

The Federal Aviation Administration, the US civil aviation regulator, recommended Thursday, in Notam (short for “Notice to aviator”), that US companies “exercise caution” when flying over Ethiopia, where the year-long conflict A has been torn apart. The north of the country is approaching the capital.

When flying over Ethiopia, at less than 29,000 feet (8,800 meters, below current jet altitude, editor’s note), “civilian aircraft are likely to be exposed directly or indirectly to field- or surface-to-air weapons fire, if An identification or calculation error occurs,” writes the FAA.

The Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA) described the US warnings as “baseless and contrary to reality”.

“Any flight in Ethiopian airspace, including Addis Ababa International Airport, is safe and operates securely,” says the Economic Commission for Civil Aviation.

On November 2, the government declared a state of emergency across the region and called on the residents of Addis Ababa to organize and prepare to defend the capital, the conflict in the northern region of Tigray extending to the south and the surrounding areas.

The United States has evacuated non-essential personnel and urged US citizens to leave the country while commercial flights are operating.

Washington is one of the most vocal critics of the conflict, which erupted in November 2020 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent the federal army to remove the authorities in the Tigray region, from the Tigray Liberation Front, which challenged and accused his authority. attacking military bases.

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Nobel Peace Prize 2019, Mr Abiy announced his victory on November 28, after the Ethiopian army took control of the regional capital, Mekele. But in June, fighters loyal to the TPLF took control of most of the area and continued their offensive in the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions.

At the end of October, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front claimed responsibility for capturing two major cities in Amhara, and thus moved closer to the capital, which the Ethiopian government denied.

As a result of the conflict, hundreds of thousands of people are on the brink of starvation, according to the United Nations.

African Union envoy for the Horn of Africa, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and his US counterpart Jeffrey Feltman visited Ethiopia on Thursday as part of ongoing diplomatic efforts to try to secure a ceasefire.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken recently warned of the danger of Ethiopia’s “internal collapse” if a political solution to the conflict was not found.

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