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Ethiopia conflict: Rebels announce ‘cessation of hostilities’ in Tigray

The file photo, taken on June 29, 2021, shows Tigray fighters on a street in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia. (By AFP)

Ethiopia’s Tigray rebels have announced a “cessation of hostilities” in the wake of a declaration by the government of an indefinite humanitarian ceasefire to about 17 months of conflict in the northern region.

The government in Addis Ababa announced the surprise humanitarian truce on Friday, calling on the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to “desist from all acts of further aggression.”

After that, the TPLF said in a statement it was “committed to implementing a cessation of hostilities effective immediately.” The rebel group also urged Ethiopian authorities to “go beyond empty promises and take concrete steps to facilitate unfettered humanitarian access to Tigray.”

Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray has been the scene of conflict since November 2020, when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops there to topple the TPLF in response to attacks on army camps. 

The war has so far killed thousands of people and displaced more than 400,000 in the region, according to the United Nations. Nearly 40% of Tigray’s population faces “an extreme lack of food,” the UN said in January.

Meanwhile, the UN, the United States and the European Union, as well as the African Union have hailed the declaration of truce.

“These positive developments must now translate into immediate improvements on the ground,” said the spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “The conflict in Ethiopia has caused terrible suffering for millions of people.”

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