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104 trapped Bangladeshi expats rescued from conflict-torn Ethiopia

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15th-Nov-2020       
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News Desk :
A UN convoy has rescued 104 Bangladeshi expatriates stranded in Ethiopia with the help of Bangladesh's foreign ministry and the Bangladesh embassy in Addis Ababa.
Following diplomatic developments, the workers of DBL Industries PLC, Ethiopia were rescued from Tigray and were on their way to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, at the time of filing this report at 5:46pm on Saturday.
MA Jabbar, Managing Director of the DBL Group confirmed the development and said they have reserved hotels in the Ethiopian capital for the accommodation of the workers there.
"Next course of action will be decided upon their arrival," he said.
He thanked Bangladesh Foreign Ministry for contribution to rescuing the workers.
Earlier, the Bangladeshi workers employed at a DBL factory in Ethiopia were living in uncertainties as they remained stuck in the conflict-torn northern Tigray region of the country.
"Our topmost priority was to relocate the workers to a safe zone from Tigray and to take the decision about the next course of action for them," Jabbar said. "To this end, we are keeping in touch with Bangladesh Embassy in Ethiopia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here to relocate the workers from the conflict zone," he added.
DBL Group was also closely working with United Nations (UN) organizations in Ethiopia to ensure safe relocation of workers, the DBL MD also said.
"On top of that, we are working with the Ethiopian Investment Commission and Ethiopian Ministry of Trade and Industry to find a suitable solution for the matter," Jabbar further added.
An escalating conflict in northern Ethiopia between federal troops and forces loyal to the Tigray regional government is raising fears of civil war in Africa's second most populated country.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Ambassador to Ethiopia Md Nazrul Islam told this newspaper that they were in touch with UN bodies for safe relocation of the expats stranded at the conflict zone.
"DBL Group sought support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in this regard and we are working on it. For now, we are trying to relocate them to a safe place from the conflict torn areas," Nazrul said.
The Ethiopian federal government blamed the ruling party in Tigray, the Tigray People's Liberation Front, or TPLF, for the latest attacks, Reuters reports. "The TPLF junta is utilising the last of the weaponry within its arsenals," the government's emergency task force wrote on Twitter.
Ethiopia's federal government has declared war on Tigray, leading to fears of a protracted conflict in Africa's second-most populous country. The Tigray region is one of 10 semi-autonomous federal states organised along ethnic lines in Ethiopia, and home of mostly to the Tigrayan people who share about Six percent of Ethiopia's population of more than 110 million.Two airports in Amhara, also a northern state, were targeted of rocket fire late on Friday, leading to the escalation of violence.
DBL Group suspended production at its plant in Ethiopia. "We're trying to find a way to remove the workers quickly," Jabbar said.
The factory established by DBL in 2018 employed about 2,000 workers, including Bangladeshis and Ethiopians.
The DBL authorities said the workers had been evacuated to a safe place in the city after the clashes began. The situation worsened after a regional rebel group in Tigray attacked the Tigray People's Liberation Front.
One of the rockets hit the airport in Gondar and partially damaged it late on Friday, said Awoke Worku, spokesperson for Gondar central zone, while a second one fired simultaneously landed just outside the airport at Bahir Dar, according to a Reuters report.
Debretsion Gebremichael, chairman of the TPLF and the state's president, said the airports were legitimate targets. "Any airport used to attack Tigray will be a legitimate target, not cities of Amhara," he told Reuters in a text message.
Hundreds of people have been killed in the 11-day-old war. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent the national defence force on an offensive against local troops in Tigray last week, after accusing them of attacking federal troops.
An Ethiopian Airlines worker who did not wish to be identified said flights to both Gondar and Bahir Dar airports had been cancelled after the attacks.
Another resident of the area said the rocket had damaged the airport terminal building. The area was sealed off and firefighting vehicles were parked outside, the resident added.
The Amhara regional state's forces have been fighting alongside their federal counterparts against Tigray's fighters.
The United Nations, the African Union and others are concerned that the fighting could spread to other parts of Ethiopia, Africa's second most populous country, and destabilise the wider Horn of Africa region.
More than 14,500 people have fled into neighbouring Sudan, with the speed of new arrivals "overwhelming the current capacity to provide aid", the UN refugee agency said on Friday.
Ethiopia's Human Rights Commission, appointed by the government but independent, said it was sending a team of investigators to the town of Mai Kadra in Tigray, where Amnesty International this week reported what it said was evidence of mass killings.

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