Despite the Ethiopian government’s ongoing attempts to convince foreign embassies that the security situation in the country was under control and that it was safe for travel, the US Department of State has extended its travel warning, citing civil unrest.
US citizens were this week again warned of the risks of travel to Ethiopia due to the potential for civil unrest related to sporadic and unpredictable anti-government protests that began in November 2015, read the statement from the State Department.
The Ethiopian government had moved to assure media recently that the country’s peace has been restored and that touristic areas were safe to travel to since the declaration of the State of Emergency. It was hoped that this would persuade foreign embassies to lift their travel bans.
“So far Germany and Australian governments have lifted their bans. We hope US will do the same soon,” a government spokesperson said recently.
Ethiopia declared a state of emergency a little over two months ago.
Thousands of tourists have reportedly cancelled planned trips to Ethiopia since the declaration, which according to the Lonely Planet, the world’s prominent travel publisher, is among the top 10 countries recommended for visiting in 2017.
Since last year, Ethiopia has faced wave of unrest, leading to hundreds of deaths and the arrest and detention of hundreds more by government agencies.
The government has reported a fall of tourism revenue due to the unrest, which led it to revise projection of its initial target to secure 3.4 billion dollars in tourism revenue down to three billion dollars, according to a report by the State-affiliated media FBC.
The latest alert issued on Monday, replaced the last one issued by the US on October 21, which came days after the Ethiopian government imposed the October 8 state of emergency which is expected to last for six months.
Reportedly around one in six tourists in Ethiopia are US citizens. The government has plans to welcome 2.5 million visitors from all over the world in 2020.
In 2015, Ethiopian Airlines began flying to Los Angeles, Tokyo, Manila and Dublin. It has also begun three-times-weekly services to Newark via Togo, opening up the New York market for potential tourists.
However, in its statement, the State Department further stated that the US Embassy in Ethiopia’s ability to provide services in many parts of the country may be limited without warning due to the local government’s restrictions on mobile and internet communications and the unpredictable nature of the current situation.
The State Department stressed that this new travel warning was issued mainly due to the state of emergency’s broad provisions.
The state of emergency allows for the arrest of individuals without a court order for activities they may otherwise consider routine, such as communication, consumption of media, attending gatherings, engaging with certain foreign governments or organisations and violating curfews.
Due to the unpredictability of communication in the country, the Department of State strongly advised on its website, that US citizens register their mobile number with the US embassy to receive security information via SMS, in addition to enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
– African News Agency