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Ethiopia declares humanitarian truce in war-ravaged Tigray

KAMPALA, UGANDA (AP) – Ethiopia’s government on Thursday announced what it called an “indefinite humanitarian truce” in its war-ravaged Tigray region, saying the action was necessary to allow unimpeded relief supplies into the area.

“The government calls upon the donor community to redouble their generous contributions to alleviate the situation and reiterates its commitment to work in collaboration with relevant organisations to expedite the provision of humanitarian assistance to those in need,” authorities said in a statement issued by the Government Communication Service.

The government statement said Tigray’s forces must reciprocate the truce for the humanitarian situation to improve in the region.

It urged fighters loyal to Tigray’s fugitive leaders “to desist from all acts of further aggression and withdraw from areas they have occupied in neighbouring regions.”

It was not immediately possible to get a comment from Tigray’s leaders.

It was not clear if the immediate humanitarian truce is a step toward a comprehensive cease-fire.

A damaged tank stands abandoned on a road near Humera, Ethiopia. PHOTO: AFP

Ethiopia’s government has faced growing international pressure to ease restrictions on the flow of humanitarian aid into Tigray. World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian who considers the Tigray region home, has repeatedly urged Ethiopian authorities to allow unfettered humanitarian access into Tigray.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States strongly supports the declaration of an indefinite humanitarian truce.

“This commitment to a cessation of hostilities should be a critical step towards the resumption and sustainment of humanitarian assistance to the people in Tigray and all Ethiopian regions and communities in need,” Blinken said in a statement.

“It should also serve as an essential foundation of an inclusive political process to achieve progress towards common security and prosperity for all the people of Ethiopia.”

Months of political tensions between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and the Tigray leaders who once dominated Ethiopia’s government exploded into war in November 2020.

The war is believed to have caused the deaths of tens of thousands of people and the displacement of millions.

Although the war has subsided in several places, notably within the Tigray and Amhara regions, concerns remain in the northeastern Afar region.