Tigray rebels agree to ‘cessation of hostilities’

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Tigrayan rebels agreed to a “cessation of hostilities” on Friday, a new turning point in the nearly 17-month war in northern Ethiopia following the government’s announcement of an indefinite humanitarian truce a day earlier.

The rebels said in a statement sent to AFP early Friday that they were “committed to implementing a cessation of hostilities effective immediately,” and urged Ethiopian authorities to hasten delivery of emergency aid into Tigray, where hundreds of thousands face starvation.

Since war broke out in November 2020, thousands have died, and many more have been forced to flee their homes as the conflict has expanded from Tigray to the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar.

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On Thursday, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government declared a surprise truce, saying it hoped the move would ease humanitarian access to Tigray and “pave the way for the resolution of the conflict” in northern Ethiopia.

It called on the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to “desist from all acts of further aggression and withdraw from areas they have occupied in neighboring regions.”

The conflict erupted when Abiy sent troops into Tigray to topple the TPLF, the region’s former ruling party, saying the move came in response to rebel attacks on army camps.

Fighting has dragged on for over a year, triggering a humanitarian crisis, as accounts have emerged of mass rapes and massacres, with both sides accused of human rights violations.

More than 400,000 people have been displaced in Tigray, according to the UN.

The region has also been subject to what the UN says is a de facto blockade.

The United States has accused Abiy’s government of preventing aid from reaching those in need, while the authorities in turn have blamed the rebels for the obstruction.

Nearly 40 percent of the people in Tigray, a region of six million people, face “an extreme lack of food”, the UN said in January, with fuel shortages forcing aid workers to deliver medicines and other crucial supplies by foot.

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Ethiopia declares ‘indefinite humanitarian truce’

Ethiopia arrests ex-members of Tigray interim government: Ex-official

At least 750 killed in north Ethiopia in second half of 2021: Rights body

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