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Ethiopia: Tigray rebels offer conditional truce

Ethiopia: Tigray rebels offer conditional truce
(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 11, 2020 Youngsters walk next to an ...   -  
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EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP or licensors -

Ethiopia

The Tigrayan rebels have offered a conditional truce as fighting intensifies between rebels and pro-government forces and humanitarian aid is cut off in northern Ethiopia, a rebel spokesman said Friday.

The resumption of fighting on August 24 ended a five-month truce.

In a letter sent Wednesday to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) leader Debretsion Gebremichael called for a conditional end to hostilities as fighting intensified on several fronts.

In this letter, obtained by AFP and authenticated by Getachew Reda, spokesman for the rebellion, Debretsion Gebremichael said that the truce depended in particular on "unhindered humanitarian access" and the return of essential services in the Tigray region.

Tigray, located in northern Ethiopia, is cut off from the rest of the country and deprived of electricity, telecommunications networks, banking services, and fuel.

The delivery of humanitarian aid by road and air has also been completely interrupted since the fighting resumed. This return to hostilities "is already affecting the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable people, including the delivery of vital humanitarian assistance" in Afar, Amhara, and Tigray, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Thursday.

The fighting has intensified in northern Tigray where the Ethiopian army, backed by forces from neighboring Eritrea, is targeting rebel positions, a diplomatic source and a foreign source, who requested anonymity, told AFP.

Journalists do not have access to northern Ethiopia, making independent verification impossible.

- Eritrean forces -

In his letter, Debretsion Gebremichael called for "the departure of Eritrean forces from Ethiopia and the tiger territory under international supervision.

The TPLF leader also called on the UN Security Council to remove troops from western Tigray, a region disputed and claimed by both Amharas and Tigrayans, causing widespread displacement. Washington has also denounced "acts of ethnic cleansing" in this region.

The Ethiopian government has not officially responded to this letter.

At the same time, diplomatic efforts are continuing to try to bring the hostilities to an end, while both sides are blaming each other for the renewed fighting.

Arrived Monday in Addis Ababa, the American special envoy for the Horn of Africa Mike Hammer extends his stay in Ethiopia, where his European counterpart Annette Weber is expected soon, diplomatic sources told AFP, without further details.

The conflict in northern Ethiopia broke out in November 2020, when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent the army to Tigray to dislodge dissident authorities in the region, accusing them of attacking military bases.

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