July 25, 2021

In Tigray, Ethiopia calls on rebels to adhere to ceasefire

Ethiopia called Thursday 1is July forces the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to adhere to the unilateral ceasefire it proclaimed after losing control of Mekele, the region’s capital.

Pro-TPLF troops retook Mekele, capital of Tigray, on Monday (June 28th), a major turning point after nearly eight months of conflict in this region of the far north of Ethiopia. Addis Ababa had immediately decreed a “Unilateral cease-fire”.

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“The decision to suspend hostilities was taken unilaterally on our side. But of course, to fully implement a ceasefire, it takes two, as in the tango ”, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Dina Mufti said on Thursday. “It is up to the opposing party to react to allow the effective implementation of the ceasefire”, he insisted.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Nobel Peace Prize 2019, launched a military operation in Tigray at the beginning of November to overthrow the local authorities there, from the TPLF. The conflict has already claimed thousands of lives. According to the UN, at least 350,000 people are in a situation of famine in the region, which the Ethiopian government denies. The United States estimates that 900,000 people are “Presumably already facing famine conditions”.

Concerns of humanitarians

On Thursday, the NGO International Rescue Committee (IRC) said that a bridge located on a crucial axis for the delivery of food aid was ” destroy “. “We are dismayed to learn that the Tekeze bridge in Tigray has been destroyed”, said the NGO on Twitter, about this infrastructure located north of the Tigrayan town of Emba Madre.

“This was one of the main supply routes in Tigray which means that humanitarian efforts will be even more hampered than in the past. The IRC continues to call for unhindered humanitarian access to the region. “ It was not immediately possible to know who destroyed the structure.

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Mr. Abiy’s government has repeatedly pledged to facilitate humanitarian access and provide aid itself. But, although the ceasefire was motivated by humanitarian reasons, aid workers worry about increasingly difficult access to the region.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced Thursday that a convoy of twenty-nine trucks carrying food aid had been denied access to Tigray and had to turn back.

Fear of a “blockade” of the region

The spokesperson for the government crisis cell for Tigray, Redwan Hussein, said on Wednesday that the ceasefire “Would help the people of Tigray to think about the pros and cons of plotting with a terrorist group to fight the Ethiopian troops who provide protection and humanitarian aid in the region”.

Such comments raise concerns “Blockade” which risks further complicating the delivery of aid, warned a humanitarian official contacted by AFP and speaking on condition of anonymity. “First, we don’t have enough fuel to run all of our vehicles, and second, we need meaningful guarantees about safe access.”, he explained.

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Pro-TPLF rebels, known as the Tigray Defense Forces (TDF), launched an offensive on April 18, three days ahead of the much-anticipated national elections, which were held across much of Ethiopia. In the space of ten days, they have dramatically reversed the balance of power on the ground. Since the end of November, most of the region has been controlled by the federal army.

Besides Mekele, the TDF, enjoying broad popular support, now control a vast majority of Tigray, according to analysts and diplomats. On Tuesday, Getachew Reda, a spokesman for the rebel forces, called the ceasefire “Joke”, going so far as to threaten to ” walk “ on the capitals of Ethiopia and Eritrea, bordering Tigray and whose troops intervened alongside the federal army, to defend the region.

The World with AFP