Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has given the rebels in the restive Tigray region in the north a 72-hour ultimatum to surrender before government troops launch an offensive on the provincial capital city Mekelle.
“We urge you to surrender peacefully within 72 hours, recognizing that you are at the point of no return,” he tweeted on Sunday.
So far, there has been no reaction from the rebels to the ultimatum.
Meanwhile, the United Nations on Monday urged the Ethiopian government to provide “protection” for the civilian population affected by the fighting.
Catherine Sozi, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Ethiopia, called on the Ethiopian government for “protection of more than 525,000 civilian (non-combatants) who live in Mekelle.”
She also highlighted the need for the “protection of all civilian infrastructure like health facilities, schools and water system… of civilian importance.”
Sozi also demanded that the Ethiopian government guarantee the safety of aid workers.
The military has already warned that it will encircle Mekelle with tanks and might have to conduct an artillery strike to liberate the city from the rebel forces holding it.