Turkish Ambassador to Ethiopia Yaprak Alp on Wednesday received 20 Turkish citizens just evacuated from the country’s restive Tigray region.
Their evacuation was made possible through two complex operations and was a timely rescue after being confined in Tigray for over two weeks.
The Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) are said to be on the march towards the regional capital Mekele after liberating many districts. This is expected to intensify in the coming days.
Forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front attacked the northern command in Tigray on Nov 4.
The Ethiopian army has since launched what has been described as law enforcement operations.
There is, however, no end in sight to the violence as humanitarian situations are reported to have deteriorated.
“We found out that there were around 20 Turkish citizens in Tigray at the beginning of the conflict two weeks ago. We worked day and night to get them to safety,” Alp told Anadolu Agency.
“We wanted to get through to them, to find out how they were and to inform their families. However, with the almost non-existent connectivity, we could not get in touch with them,” she said, referring to a communication blackout in the region.
“Through the help of our friends in the Ethiopian government and thanks to the fruitful conversation last week between the foreign ministers and the deputy foreign ministers of Turkey and Ethiopia and the work of my embassy and staff in cooperation with in Addis Ababa, we were able to safely evacuate them,” she said.
The ambassador noted that the Turkish evacuees came in two groups from two different parts of Tigray.
“Turkey has deep-rooted bonds with Ethiopia and we share historical relations with them. Turkey is heavily invested in the prosperity of Ethiopia,” she underlined.
One of the evacuees, Yener Sevim, works in Mekele, where he has lived for seven years.
He told Anadolu Agency that he and his fellow countrymen made it safely out of the restive region.
“Over the past 15 days, there were issues in Mekele with electricity, internet and phone connectivity as well as withdrawing money from banks,” he said.
“We are all looking forward to seeing our families. We have missed them dearly and know they have worried constantly about us. We want to thank everyone who helped us reach Addis Ababa. Coming back here, I can truly see the effort that was put into our evacuation. I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart,” he added.