Ethiopia‘s government declared a unilateral truce with Tigrayan forces on Thursday to enable aid into the northern province, though it was unclear how it would enforce it.
“The government of Ethiopia hopes that this truce will substantially improve the humanitarian situation on the ground and pave the way for the resolution of the conflict in northern Ethiopia without further bloodshed,” the government said in a statement.
According to the United Nations, more than 90% of Tigray’s 5.5 million people require food assistance.
“Hopes that this truce will translate into an effective cessation of hostilities, respected by all parties in this conflict, to allow for effective humanitarian access for all who need it,” a U.N. spokesperson said.
Tigray’s rulers, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), are positioned against the central government, led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, in a 16-month struggle.
The US State Department expressed its delight at the news and expressed its strong support for Ethiopia’s resolve to engage with humanitarian organisations to ensure that help reaches all those in need as quickly as possible.
A spokesman for the Tigrayan army did not respond to a request for comment on the declaration, which came after the United States’ Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, David Satterfield, visited Addis Ababa this week.
Ethiopia’s government has long stated that aid is allowed into Tigray, yet just a trickle of aid has entered since Ethiopian troops left from Tigray in June of last year.
On the battlefield, where a mix of regional fighters and volunteer militias have been fighting TPLF forces, it was unclear how the central government would execute its injunction.
Some convoys have been attacked and looted, while others have been unable to obtain the appropriate permits. In November, local authorities in the Afar region arrested more than 70 drivers hired by the UN to carry aid.
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