LDS missionaries evacuated out of Ethiopia due to civil unrest
On Friday, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints evacuated missionaries serving in Ethiopia to Kenya due to ongoing civil unrest within the African country.
On Saturday, the U.S. State Department ordered “non-emergency” U.S. government employees and their family members to leave Ethiopia.
“Due to growing concerns about civil unrest in Ethiopia, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has temporarily moved missionaries serving in the Ethiopia Addis Ababa Mission out of the country. Sixty missionaries, including the mission leaders, President (Robert) and Sister (Darice) Dudfield, are temporarily being housed in neighboring Kenya,” according to Sam Penrod, church spokesman.
Decisions concerning the 10 full-time missionaries from Ethiopia were made to best meet the individual needs of the missionaries and their families, according to Penrod.
“All missionaries will continue to serve under the direction of their mission president. Further decisions on where these missionaries will be assigned will be made as the situation in Ethiopia is evaluated,” Penrod said. “Our prayers are with the members of the Church and the people of Ethiopia as they face these difficult and unknown circumstances.”
According to reports from National Public Radio, “The White House has declared the situation in Ethiopia ‘an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,’ and the U.S. special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, arrived in Addis Ababa on Thursday to push for cease-fire talks.”
This is not the first time the LDS Church has evacuated its full-time missionaries due to civil unrest.
In recent years, 63 missionaries of the Church serving in the Bolivia Cochabamba Mission were evacuated and subsequently assigned to other missions.
Albania mission president Laurel L. Holman, his wife Louise Holman, and 33 other missionaries were safe after being evacuated from Albania during civil unrest.
Those missionaries were among numerous refugees airlifted out of the country when order in the capital, Tiranë, collapsed after weeks of violence sparked by high-risk investment schemes that caused many citizens to lose money.