FOREIGN AFFAIRS Minister Stanley Kakubo has received and welcomed the first batch of Zambians who have been evacuated from Ethiopia due to civil unrest in that country.

Rebels in Ethiopia are threatening to advance to the capital, Addis Ababa, as the federal army calls on former military personnel to join in the fight.

Addressing the media at Kenneth Kaunda International airport, Tuesday, Kakubo thanked the Zambian Air Force and other relevant stakeholders who ensured that Zambians were evacuated safely.

“The AU and UN have both put in place measures to ensure that should the situation escalate and deteriorate further, the key staff that have remained behind will also be evacuated. I think we must also recognize and thank the Zambian team here at home. Permanent secretaries especially Office of the Vice-President, through DMMU, that have been instrumental in making sure and executing that this evacuation has be done safely,” he said

“Also, the Zambia Air Force who have been on the ground working privately in tracking this aircraft until our people are back home. I think the timing of this has been perfectly executed. The situation remains worrisome and I think everybody that has been involved, the Zambia team in making sure this happens safely, the President expresses his gratitude to the specialized team that has been working on this evacuation.”

And a representative, who was speaking on behalf of the repatriated Zambians, thanked government for its bold decision to evacuate them.

“As a community living in Ethiopia as Zambians, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the government of Zambia for making a very proactive decision for the citizens of Zambia to come back to Zambia for safety reasons mainly because of the situation that is prevailing in Ethiopia. We are a committed community of Zambians in Ethiopia working diligently to support the development agenda for the Ethiopian government. Because of the security situation that is prevailing in Ethiopia, the Zambian government has decided that the community be brought back to Zambia for their safety,” said the representative.

“I would thank this decision which has been made and we are very appreciative and currently we do appreciate that as much as the window is still open to have a lot more Zambians coming back, currently, what we have seen is that the organizations that we are working for also would have their own agenda which is to help the Ethiopian government to continue with developing activities that they are implementing in the country. But for the purpose of safety of the Zambian community, a statement was issued that let’s put safety first. This is what has triggered the government of Zambia to institute an order to ensure that the community of Zambians be repatriated in Zambia because of the uncertainties that are prevailing in the country.”