Tigray's rebel forces currently have the upper hand in the war that erupted a year ago in northern Ethiopia.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who fell out with the governing party of Tigray over his political reforms, has declared a nationwide state of emergency - it is fear and uncertainty that now rule.
As rebels advance towards the capital, the government has asked residents of Addis Ababa to mobilise and protect their neighbourhoods.
Fighters from Tigray, led by the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), took the cities of Dessie and Kombolcha over the weekend.
They are in the Amhara region, which neighbours Tigray, and are about 400km (250 miles) from the capital.
The battle for Dessie was believed to have been one of the most ferocious in the war as the city is seen as the gateway to Addis Ababa, in the south, and the border with Djibouti, in the east.
Volunteers lift bags of food aid at a displaced people's camp in Debark in Amhara, Ethiopia - October 2021
IMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES
Food aid is distributed at a camp for people displaced by the fighting in Amhara
A man who worked at the main hospital in Dessie before it fell said the city had changed dramatically over the last few months as fighting raged in the region.
Asking not to be named, he told the BBC that Dessie was known as the "capital of love" because of its multi-ethnic and cultural mix - a thriving economic hub.
But in the last few months, thousands of people have poured in, fleeing the rebel advance.
"To and from work, small children would pull at my trouser legs and beg me for money to buy bread."
He and more than 10 of his colleagues abandoned the hospital when they saw government soldiers leaving the town.
He is now in Addis Ababa from where Tewodrose Hailemariam, a senior member of the National Movement of Amhara (NaMA), is mobilising communities to send fighters to stop the advance as well as distributing aid to those displaced.
He says his party believes the TPLF's real motivations are to come back to power.
The TPLF led the country for 27 years until 2018 - becoming sidelined by the government of Prime Minister Abiy.
"There are two options - either the TPLF is defeated and the Ethiopian central government is saved.