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Ethiopia’s Tigray Region Continues to be on the Boil

As rebels advance on the local capital Mekele, Tigray’s acting government announced a unilateral ceasefire. The move has signaled a turning point in the nearly eight-month-old conflict between the federal government and the Tigray fighters. Several recent developments in the capital have led to this decision.

The recent development in Tigray has prompted the federal government to declare an immediate ceasefire in the war-torn region. According to Ethiopian state media, the ceasefire is likely to last until the end of the current farming season. It is intended to facilitate agriculture production and aid distribution in the region. This is essential to allow farmers to work in their fields. This, however, also comes as Tigrayan forces have claimed several important victories in the region in the last week.

According to former rulers of the conflicted region, they’re back in control of Mekele as Tigray fighters take the city’s airport and other key positions. This recent development essentially brings a setback to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s effort to bring the region under federal control. The rebels who’ve branded themselves as Tigray Defence Forces (TDF) launched a major offensive last week coinciding with Ethiopia’s highly anticipated national elections.

So far there has been no response from the Tigrayan forces concerning the ceasefire. The TDF seems to consider the retake of Mekele as a military victory. However, the government is saying it was a choice to end the fight for the sake of the Tigrayan population. It is likely that in the coming days these opposing narratives will continue to oppose each other. The president of the interim administration in Tigray said that he also asked the Prime Minister to find a political solution to this conflict.

The head of the Tigray’s provisional administration Abraham Belay meanwhile has urged the federal government to bring a ceasefire. The decision was based on humanity so that it can help prevent further damage in the region.

Meanwhile, the United States Island and Britain have called for an emergency UN Security Council public meeting to discuss this Tigray crisis. Diplomatic sources said that the meeting could be held this week itself.

The war in the region began last November when the Ethiopian Prime Minister sent troops to oust the dissident regionals leadership. While a swift victory on the region was promised, intense fighting has persisted since then triggering a humanitarian crisis. The United Nations warns that the conflict has left over 350,000 people on the brink of man-made famine.

So far it is unclear whether the ceasefire could lead to possible talks between the parties. In any case, if this is respected it could be a relief to the civilians. It could be a relief because it would allow humanitarian organizations to access rural areas and bring much-needed humanitarian aid.

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