Ethiopian rivals agree humanitarian access to war-torn Tigray | Ethiopia

The Ethiopian government and the Tigrayan rebels have agreed to facilitate immediate humanitarian access to “all those in need” in Tigray and neighboring war-torn regions.

The deal followed talks in the Kenyan capital Nairobi this week on the full implementation of an agreement signed between the warring parties 10 days ago to end the brutal two-year conflict in northern Ethiopia.

“The parties agreed to facilitate unhindered humanitarian access to all those in need of assistance in Tigray and neighboring regions,” according to a joint statement read out at a news conference in Nairobi on Saturday.

The agreement was signed by Field Marshal Berhanu Jula, Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian Armed Forces, and General Tadesse Worede, Commander-in-Chief of the Tigray Rebel Forces.

The African Union’s special envoy, Olusegun Obasanjo, who has been brokering the peace talks, said Saturday’s deal had “immediate effect”.

The two sides also agreed to set up a joint committee to implement an agreement to disarm fighters with the Tigray Popular Liberation Front (TPLF), the statement said.

After little more than a week of negotiations in the South African capital of Pretoria, the Government of the Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, and the TPLF on November 2 signed a peace agreement which has been hailed by the international community as a crucial first step in ending the bloodshed.

– The restoration of aid to Tigray and its 6 million inhabitants was one of the key points of the agreement.

The northernmost region of Ethiopia is in the grip of a serious humanitarian crisis due to lack of food and medicineand there is limited access to basic services, including electricity, banking and communications.

“We have suffered untold misery in the last two years and we are still suffering,” Tadesse said. “So the commitment we make today is with the hope that the suffering of our people will end soon.”

Berhanu promised the “full commitment of the government to bring peace and stability to our people and our country.”

International pressure for a ceasefire has been mounting since heavy fighting broke out in late August, shattering a five-month truce that had allowed limited aid to reach Tigray.

The Pretoria agreement calls in particular for the cessation of hostilities, the restoration of humanitarian aid, the restoration of federal authority over Tigray and the disarmament of TPLF fighters.

The conflict between the TPLF and pro-Abiy forces, which include regional militias and the Eritrean army, has caused untold numbers of deaths, forced more than 2 million people from their homes and led to hundreds of thousands on the brink of famine in Tigray.

Casualty estimates vary widely, with the United States saying as many as half a million people have died, while the EU’s foreign envoy, Josep Borrell, said more than 100,000 people may have died.

UN-backed investigators have accused all sides of committing abuses, but also accused Addis Ababa of using famine as a weapon of war, claims Ethiopian authorities deny.

Abiy declared last week that his government, whose forces had claimed considerable gains on the Tigray battlefield in recent weeks, had secured “100%” of what it had sought in peace negotiations.

On Friday, the government said its forces controlled 70% of Tigray and aid, including 35 food trucks and three medicine trucks, was being sent to the strategic city of Shire.

But the rebels and a Tigray-based aid worker quickly denied the claims.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization called for a massive influx of food and medicine into Tigray after the ceasefire agreement, saying aid had not yet been allowed in.

“Many people are dying of treatable diseases. Many people are starving,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a native of Tigray, told a news conference.

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