ETHIOPIANS TODAY, ADDIS ABABA (FINFINNEE), ETHIOPIA:
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Minnesota man detained in Ethiopia, family pleads for help: “I am absolutely concerned for his life”
Family members say it’s been nearly two days since they–or anyone–has heard from Tashitta Tufaa.
Tashitta Tuffa is President and CEO of Metropolitan Transportation Network, based in Fridley.
Tashitta Tufaa’s family says he spent the last two weeks of 2022 in Ethiopia and was preparing to board a return flight to America when he was detained at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa.
“My uncle was actually with my father. They were supposed to board the same flights and both of their passports got confiscated for some reason,” said Nuurasuu Tufaa, Tashitta’s son. “I got a phone call from my mother hearing that he’s suddenly been detained. It was very scary news. I didn’t know what to do.”
Ethiopia is currently designated as a level 3 or “reconsider travel” advisory by the U.S. State Department. Despite that, Nuurasuu says his family called his father back to his native country.
“He went back home to visit my sick grandmother and his dear aunt passed away while he was there,” said Nuurasuu Tufaa. “My father has no political alliances that I’m aware of. He just wanted to spend time with his mother.”
Nuurasuu says he’s not just concerned for the well-being and safety of his father, but also for his business that provides services to countless people across Minnesota.
“I don’t know where he’s been the last 36 hours and I’m very concerned. I am absolutely concerned for his life. I am very scared, not been able to get much sleep to be honest,” Nuurasuu said. “He’s a business owner. He employs hundreds of Minnesotans. Every day, thousands of Minnesotan kids who study in public schools depend on Metropolitan Transportation Network to bring them to and from school. The lives of those kids and those workers will greatly be affected by his absence.”
The Tuffa family says they’ve been working with federal officials to try and bring Tashitta Tuffa home safely.
“It’s very hard and devastating. So what we’re trying to do now is get in touch with the United States embassy in Ethiopia and get them to locate my father and secure his release and make sure that he’s safe,” Nuurasuu said.
In a statement, Senator Amy Klobuchar told WCCO “My office is in contact with Mr. Tufaa’s family regarding this deeply concerning the situation. My team has reached out to State Department officials to make sure this case is prioritized and we will continue working to bring Mr. Tufaa home safely.”
In addition, Congressman Dean Phillips told WCCO’s Esme Murphy that he and his office spent most of New Year’s Eve working on the situation and plan to escalate the case to the Secretary of State on New Year’s Day if there wasn’t a resolution.
In the meantime, the Tufaa family says they’ll do everything they can from the other side of the world.
“We’re on the phone basically 24/7, not getting any sleep. It’s very hard. It’s my dad, you know. I love him a lot and I just want him to be back. I just want him to be with us. So, what we’re trying to do now is get in touch with the United States embassy in Ethiopia and get them to locate my father and secure his release and make sure that he’s safe,” Nuurasuu said. “I’m eternally grateful for all of them and their cooperation in making sure that my father’s safe.”
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