Mediators meet to bolster Ethiopia truce after two-year conflict

Refugees who fled the fighting in Tigray stand in line for supplies at the Um Rakuba camp near the Sudan border. Baz Ratner/Reuters

The Mediators between Ethiopia’s federal government and authorities in the Tigray region, embroiled until last month in a brutal war, are stepping up efforts to enforce a truce as relations between the two sides inch closer towards normality.

The November 2 ceasefire quieted a two-year conflict that killed tens of thousands and displaced millions in the Horn of Africa country, but the implementation of parts of the deal has been slower than hoped.

Humanitarian workers in Tigray say troops from neighbouring Eritrea – which should have withdrawn under the terms of the truce – are still present in several towns there, a region where millions remain hungry and needing aid.

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Eritrea’s government has not commented.

Both the issue of Eritrean forces and the restoration of services and humanitarian aid to Tigray were expected to be on the agenda of a monitoring team being set up by the mediators, Reuters said.

The mediators were gathering in Tigray’s capital Mekelle, Nuur Mohamud Sheekh, spokesperson for the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), said on Thursday, December 29, 2022.

Getachew Reda, spokesperson for the regional Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), and Ethiopian national security advisor Redwan Hussien did not respond to requests for comment.

Under the peace deal, the monitoring team was supposed to be in place by Nov. 22. Tigrayan leaders complained about delays establishing it and implementing other provisions of the truce.

On other fronts, momentum toward better relations appears to be picking up.

On Wednesday, state-owned Ethiopian Airlines resumed flights to Mekelle, the first in 18 months. Ethio Telecom reconnected its services to Mekelle and 27 other towns, while the government says humanitarian aid is being ramped up.