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Ethiopia ensures its airspace is safe, after US warning

Ethiopia said Friday that its airspace was safe, after a warning from the United States on the risks posed to civil aircraft by the escalation of the conflict in the country.

The FAA, the American civil aviation regulator, on Thursday recommended, in a Notam (acronym for “Notice to aviators”), that American companies “exercise caution” when flying over Ethiopia, where the A conflict that has been tearing apart for a year the north of the country is approaching the capital.

When they fly over Ethiopia, at an altitude of less than 29,000 feet (8,800 meters, below the current cruising altitude of jets, editor’s note), “civilian aircraft are likely to be directly or indirectly exposed to fire from field weapons or surface-to-air weapons, in the event of an identification or calculation error, “writes the FAA.

The Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA) called the US warnings “baseless and rather inconsistent with reality.”

“Any flight in Ethiopian airspace, including Addis Ababa International Airport, is safe and operates securely,” says ECAA.

The government declared on November 2 a state of emergency throughout the territory and called on the inhabitants of Addis Ababa to organize and prepare to defend the capital, the conflict in the northern region of Tigray s ‘extending to the south and surrounding areas.

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

Washington is one of the most vocal critics of the conflict, triggered in November 2020 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent the federal army to remove authorities in the Tigray region, from the Tigray Liberation Front (TPLF), who defied his authority and whom he accused of having attacked military bases.

Nobel Peace Prize 2019, Mr. Abiy proclaimed victory on November 28, after the capture of the regional capital Mekele, by the Ethiopian army. But in June, pro-TPLF fighters took over most of the region and continued their offensive in neighboring Amhara and Afar regions.

At the end of October, the TPLF claimed responsibility for the capture of two key cities in Amhara, thus moving 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 UN.

AU envoy for the Horn of Africa ex-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 cease-fire.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently warned of the risk of Ethiopia “imploding” if no political solution to the conflict is found.

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