U.S. State Department urges U.S. citizens to leave Ethiopia immediately

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. State Department on Tuesday again urged U.S. citizens in Ethiopia to leave the country immediately, adding that the United States has no plans to facilitate an evacuation via military or commercial aircraft as Washington steps up pressure to bring an end to the conflict in Ethiopia.

The United States this month advised U.S. citizens in Ethiopia to leave the country as soon as possible and is offering repatriation loans for those who do not have the funds to leave.

"There are no plans to fly the U.S. military into Ethiopia to facilitate evacuations or replicate the contingency effort we recently undertook in Afghanistan, which was a unique situation for many reasons," a senior U.S. State Department official told reporters.

At least 1,000 people, mostly ethnic Tigrayans, have been detained in cities across Ethiopia in the past week, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

Ethiopia declared a state of emergency on Nov. 2, a year after conflict erupted between the federal government and forces aligned with the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the political party controlling the northern region of Tigray.

The declaration, which is valid for six months, allows suspects to be detained without trial for as long as the state of emergency lasts and allows house-to-house searches without a warrant.

A second senior U.S. State Department official said the African Union envoy for the Horn of Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo, plans to return to Ethiopia in the coming days.

The United States will consult with partners and assess how it can support Obasanjo, including whether it makes sense for U.S. Special Envoy Jeffrey Feltman to return, the official said.

Washington last week imposed sanctions on the Eritrean military and other Eritrea-based individuals and entities and warned it was prepared to take action against other parties to the conflict.

(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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