Tension mounts as foreigners leave Ethiopia

The United Nations has ordered the evacuation of family members of its international staff from Ethiopia, as fighting escalates between the government and ethnic minority forces.

Conflict between Ethiopian government troops and Tigrayan forces from the country's northern region has continued since November last year. The government declared a state of emergency on November 2.

AFP news agency and other media have reported that Tigrayan forces are stepping up their offensive. Fighters reportedly seized control of a town about 220 kilometers northeast of the capital Addis Ababa earlier this week.

A UN spokesperson said on Tuesday that international staff will continue support operations in the country, but hundreds of family members will be "temporarily" relocated.

The US government called on its citizens to leave Ethiopia immediately on November 16. France and Germany took similar measures on Tuesday.

Japan's foreign ministry is strongly requesting its nationals in Addis Ababa and across the country to consider leaving. Officials said that around 210 Japanese citizens were in Ethiopia as of early November, with many having since left the country.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed posted on social media that he will go to the front line to lead government forces. The situation remains tense as both sides show no signs of relenting.