The government of Ethiopia led by Noble Peace Prize winner, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, has announced a unilateral declaration of “an indefinite humanitarian truce effective immediately.” The government says it hoped to help hasten delivery of emergency aid into the Tigray, where hundreds of thousands face starvation.
Conflict erupted in Tigray in November 2020 between federal troops and forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
The war spilled over into the neighbouring regions of Amhara and Afar, killing thousands of civilians, and displacing millions across northern Ethiopia, and into neighbouring Sudan.
Since war broke out in northern Ethiopia in November 2020, thousands have died, and millions remain displaced.
In a statement on Thursday, the government stated that it was committed to exert maximum effort to facilitate the free flow of emergency humanitarian aid into the Tigray region.
“To optimise the success of the humanitarian truce, the government calls upon the insurgents in Tigray to desist from all acts of further aggression and withdraw from areas they have occupied in neighbouring regions,” it said.
“The government of Ethiopia hopes that this truce will substantially improve the humanitarian situation on the ground and pave the way for the resolution of the conflict in northern Ethiopia without further bloodshed.”
Hours after the declaration by the Ethiopian Government, Tigrayan authorities issued a statement saying that they would do everything possible, to make the humanitarian ceasefire, a success.
The development follows a visit by the US special envoy for the Horn of Africa, David Satterfield, to the capital Addis Ababa earlier in the week.
The UN chief on Friday welcomed the declaration of the indefinite humanitarian truce on the part of the Ethiopian Government, and a commitment by forces in the Tigray region to comply with the immediate ceasefire, amid deep concern for the five million people who need emergency aid there.
I welcome the declaration by the Government of Ethiopia of an indefinite humanitarian truce & the commitment by Tigrayan authorities to a cessation of hostilities.
I urge all parties in the conflict to build on this development & take steps needed toward a long-term ceasefire.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) March 25, 2022
“The conflict in Ethiopia has caused terrible suffering for millions of people across Afar, Amhara, Tigray, Benishangul Gumz and Oromia”, said UN Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, in a statement issued on behalf of Secretary General António Guterres.
Many aid activities remain reduced or suspended in Tigray, UN humanitarians reported last week, when fewer than 7,000 people received food assistance – an extremely small fraction of the 870,000 who UN colleagues are trying to help each week.
Humanitarian partners warn that less than 10 per cent of the required quantity of seeds have managed to make their way Tigray before the start of the planting season, which is only a month away.
Some medical and nutrition supplies have continued to be flown into the Tigrayan capital, Mekelle, in recent months, and in neighbouring Afar, an estimated 200,000 men, women and children displaced by the fighting, remain in areas that the UN and partners cannot reach, due to ongoing insecurity issues.
In accessible parts of Afar, more than 112,000 people have received food assistance since late February, the UN reported last week.
Mr. Guterres in his statement, reiterated his call for the restoration of public services in Tigray, “including banking, electricity and telecommunications, and calls for all sides to proactively enable and facilitate the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian assistance across all affected areas.”
The Secretary-General urged all parties fighting in the north, “to build on this encouraging development to take the necessary steps towards a long-term ceasefire.”
Nnamdi Maduakor is a Writer, Investor and Entrepreneur