Tigray Rebel Forces Pulling Back From Ethiopia’s Afar Region, Says TPLF Spokesperson

Tigray rebel forces are completely withdrawing from Ethiopia’s Afar region, a spokesperson for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has confirmed, reported Reuters.

On Monday, Getachew Reda, spokesperson for the TPLF, told the Reuters news agency that the Tigrayan forces have left all of Afar, adding that he hoped it meant that desperately needed food aid could finally reach Tigray.

Ahmed Harif, Afar’s police commissioner, said Tigrayan forces had pulled back from the Abala town but they were still present in three of the region’s districts. He said the highway between Abala and Tigray’s capital Mekelle was still under their control.

It currently remains unclear if the withdrawal was negotiated between the Ethiopian government and Tigray rebel groups.

Ethiopia’s northern region has been the center of conflict since November 2020, when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent military troops into Tigray to oust the ruling TPLF after accusing the rebel group of attacks on federal army camps.

The fighting between the federal forces and the TPLF and their allies has led to the death of thousands of people, while several million others have been displaced from their homes.

The violence has eased since the federal government declared a unilateral ceasefire last month to allow humanitarian aid to enter the war-affected regions.

Tigrayan forces said they would respect the ceasefire only until sufficient aid was delivered to their region within a reasonable time.

Notably, over 90 percent of the population is in immediate need of food assistance. The United Nations (UN) has blamed bureaucracy and insecurity for blocking convoys loaded with relief aid and said at least 100 trucks of aid are needed to enter Tigray every day.

Only 144 trucks have been made to enter Tigray since the ceasefire was announced a month ago, with the latest 74 arriving on Monday, according to the UN World Food Programme.

Caroline Finnegan

A professionnal journalist for the past ten years, I cover global news and economic affairs for The Chief Observer.

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