Security Update: Ethiopia Declares State of Emergency
October 2016 - Ethiopia's political situation continues to deteriorate as the country's government has declared a State of Emergency in response to the now routine protests. Protests continue to take place in Amhara's capital, Bahir Dar and near the country's capital, Addis Ababa. The gatherings are extremely large, sporadic, unpredictable, and often become violent. The State of Emergency, which can last six months or longer, gives the government special permissions. The goverment, under the declared state, is allowed to make arrests without warrants, block Internet access, block social media sites, prohibit public gatherings, and impose curfews. To date, mobile internet access has been shut off for up to 7 days on multiple occasions. The State of Emergency is widely viewed as a freedom limiting control tactic and has been shunned by the international community. The local population, particularly the ethnic majority Oromo, view the State of Emergency as a restriction of their rights and have denounced the government. If the population decides to respond, it is possible that Ethiopia's political stability will deteriorate to a dangerous level.
Travel to Ethiopia should be postponed until, at minimum, the State of Emergency is lifted. The lack of reliable communications limits travelers abilities to call for assitance. Large protests may block roads and shut down public transportation including taxis, buses, and trains. Any escalation of force against the goverment could be met with extreme violence causing a country wide shutdown of infrastructure including electricity, radio stations, television stations, and airports. Travelers should check with their tour provider for alternate dates and strongly consider rescheduling their trip.
For travelers already in-country, if demonstration occurs near a traveler's hotel, particularly in Addis Ababa, the traveler should shelter in place and close all windows, blinds, and doors. Travelers should check with their hotel and tour provider for alternate methods of communication such as satelite phone. On occasion, despite internet blackouts, large hotels in Addis Ababa have maintained internet access with land lines. Move to these hotels if possible.