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Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa

Ethiopia Crisis: Kenya Issues Advisory to Relocating Foreign Staff

The notice, known as ‘note verbale’ in diplomatic terms, does not mention Ethiopia by name but says recent events in the region may force some foreign countries to relocate their military and diplomatic staff and equipment to Kenya and must follow protocol to do so
posted onDecember 15, 2021
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The Kenyan government says it will restrict any movements of military or diplomatic redeployments through its territory in the wake of temporary relocation of foreign staff from Ethiopia over security reasons.

This follows a host of organisations that are relocating from Ethiopia to Kenya following months of fighting between government forces and Tigrayan Defence Forces (TDF).

Although the Kenyan government has welcomed them, in an advisory note to foreign missions and offices of international organisations stationed in Nairobi, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it will allow any movements of personnel or equipment from a “third country” through Kenya, but only if they meet criteria, including prior approvals.

The notice, known as ‘note verbale’ in diplomatic terms, does not mention Ethiopia by name but says recent events in the region may force some foreign countries to relocate their military and diplomatic staff and equipment to Kenya and must follow protocol to do so.

A number of countries— including the US, UK and Ireland— have warned their nationals to leave Ethiopia as soon as possible. 

There were other reports of military repositioning in the region by foreign countries just in case a more urgent evacuation was needed. 

The US said it would be evacuating their diplomatic staff from Ethiopia although it did not indicate whether those staff will temporarily work from neighbouring countries.

“Military and security personnel and in particular those carrying security equipment and communication equipment and weapons of any kind must have clearance and inform of their redeployment and relocation prior to their arrival and must receive consent in advance. They are also required to possess valid travel documentation,” says the note issued on Thursday last week to all embassies in Nairobi. 

“Diplomatic missions should notify the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the arrival of their diplomatic staff who have been relocated from the region to enable the ministry to regularise the deployment in the country.”

Though the advisory was generic, it is Ethiopia which has had a deadly conflict since last year when the TDF that was once a ruling party, reportedly attacked a northern command of the Ethiopian National Defence Forces in November last year. Currently, according to available reports, the war is in a stalemate situation.

Recently the TDF annihilated 80,000 government and Amhara regional militia around the towns of Weldiya and Gashena in the northern Amhara region in what is understood to be the biggest defeat inflicted on any belligerent since the Second World War.

Ethiopia is home to the headquarters of the African Union, the continental bloc of 55 member countries. 

It also hosts the offices of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, as well as more than 120 other diplomatic missions.

The African Union earlier rejected rumours it planned to temporarily relocate due to the war.

Instead, the continental body has been asking for a ceasefire and national dialogue between warring parties.

Nairobi said all requests for redeployment must be done through the requisite diplomatic channels and that all affected staff and their identity and equipment must be provided before actual arrival, including that those staff must have valid travel documents before touching down in Kenya.

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