Ethiopia: ‘Challenge Accepted’ as Abiy calls Diaspora home for Christmas

By Fred Harter
Posted on Friday, 14 January 2022 12:09, updated on Tuesday, 18 January 2022 10:06

Ethiopian PM Ahmed addresses Ethiopian diaspora in Washington
Members of the Ethiopian diaspora, the largest outside of Ethiopia in Washington, U.S., July 28, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Theiler

Thousands of diaspora Ethiopians are returning to their homeland this month after the government called on them to visit as part of an initiative dubbed “The Great Ethiopian Homecoming”.

The Ethiopian government challenged one million Ethiopians living abroad to come home for the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian festive period that started on Christmas Day on 7 January and lasts until the festival of epiphany on 19 January.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government launched the initiative in late November as fighting raged in the north of the country. A surge south by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebel group had brought it within 200km of Addis Ababa, the capital, after more than one year of fighting, prompting an exodus of foreign diplomats who feared the city could fall.

But a government counteroffensive, supported by drones and hastily mobilised militias, has succeeded in halting the advance of the TPLF rebels, who have now retreated to their northern Tigray region.

“We are not only fighting the war but also the campaign to weaken Ethiopia – Abiy