Afwerki Abraha started his diplomatic career after years fighting in the liberation war

Former Eritrean diplomat Afwerki Abraha has died in the UK after contracting coronavirus, his family say.

The respected former liberation fighter, who was 71 years old and had been in intensive care in London for one month, did not have any underlying health issues, they say.

“Afwerki Abraha was a man who easily made the transition from a fighter to a professional and a loyal person,” his colleague and senior diplomat Haile Menkerios told the BBC.

Before joining the war of independence from Ethiopia, Mr Afwerki had studied political science and qualified as a chemist in Russia.

He went to the front in 1975 from Germany, where he had been living.

After the war he became the first Eritrean diplomat to be posted to Ethiopia.

He then moved on to London, where he was officially based from 1996 until 2001.

After his wife Fatina Ahmedin, an artist and former fighter, was knocked down by a car in London leaving her paralysed, the couple opted to stay in the UK.

One of his relatives told the BBC that Mr Afwerki was devoted to his wife’s care for 20 years “never leaving her alone”.

His friends too have described him as a very committed man who loved his family dearly.