BY FACE2FACE AFRICA, 10:00am December 20, 2022,

Ethiopia Crisis: peace gradually returns with a possible end of the war

Redwan Hussein, left, Representative of the Ethiopian government, and Getachew Reda, right, Representative of the Tigray People's Liberation Front, shake hands during a meeting regarding the African Union-led negotiations to resolve conflict in Ethiopia, in Pretoria on Nov. 2. Photographer: Phill Magakoe/AFP/Getty Images

A renewed hope of a truce and possible end of the Ethiopia conflict was the centerpiece of the African Union-led peace meeting in South Africa.

The Tigray Peoples Liberation Front and the Government of Ethiopia, the two sides locked in the conflict, met in Pretoria, South Africa, to resolve the impasse in the peace process in the country. The meeting aimed at bringing a truce and a permanent end to the two-year conflict believed to have displaced millions and killed thousands of persons in Ethiopia, the second most populous country in Africa. The gathering in South Africa is the first formal peace meeting since the start of the war in November 2020.

The key highlight of the meeting is the Peace Deal signed by the parties in the conflict. It embodies a lot of programs to bring a lasting solution to the country, part of which is the gradual disarming of the Tigray fighters within 30 days of the signing of the peace agreement. Field Marshal Berhanu Jula, the Chief of staff of the Ethiopia Military, and General Tadesse Worede, the Commander-In-Chief of the Tigray forces, signed the peace deal.

Another key highlight of the Peace Deal is the restarting of aid supply to the Tigray region. On Tuesday, November 15, 2022, a few days after the Peace Deal, the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) announced the arrival of a Medical Aid Convoy in the war-devastated Tigray region after months of aid blockade.

In what seems to be a possible end to the conflict which clocked two years on Thursday, November 3, 2022, Ethiopia’s Tigray Forces began the gradual withdrawal of their fighters in compliance with the Peace Meeting that lasted from Monday, October 24, 2022, to Sunday, October 29, 2022. Some observers see this as a good sign of the truce deal and a possible end to the war.

On December 4, 2022, General Tadesse Worede, the commander of the Tigray Forces, announced the withdrawal of 65% of the forces of the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front from the frontline. However, General Tadesse said that some troops in the conflict region still don’t want peace, apparently alluding to the Eritrean soldiers and other Ethiopian militias that fought against the TPLF. Tadesse said that his troops will not disengage fully until the threat caused by the other actors ends.

With the omission of the forces from the Amhara region of Ethiopia and troops from Eritrea in the peace talks, it is believed that Amhara forces and Eritrean troops might not abide by the outcome of the peace deal. With doubt about the withdrawal of Eritrean and Amhara forces, some observers still doubt a permanent end to the war.

Some observers believe that the Ethiopia conflict has affected the fortunes of Abiy Ahmed, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia who sent troops to war in the Northern region of the country on November 4, 2020, less than a year after receiving a Noble Peace Prize for his peaceful resolution of the conflict between Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea.

Health and Medical Concerns

Officials of the World Health Organization have expressed concerns about places that are still inaccessible due to the control of troops from Eritrea. The situation has made it difficult for unrestricted access and massive implementation of medical and health assistance to the Tigray region despite the peace agreement.

The United Nations Food Programme said that about 13.6 million people across Tigray and the surrounding regions of Afar and Amhara are only surviving on humanitarian aid.

Health experts, Human rights organizations, and opinion leaders have estimated that more than 100 thousand people have died as a result of the conflict, with millions of displaced persons living in refugee camps, and hundreds of cases of sexual violence recorded.

In a press release on January 21, 2021, in New York, Ms. Pramila Patten, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, said “I am greatly concerned by serious allegations of sexual violence in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, including a high number of alleged rapes in the capital, Mekelle. There are also disturbing reports of individuals allegedly forced to rape members of their own families, under threats of imminent violence. Some women have also reportedly been forced by military elements to have sex in exchange for basic commodities, while medical centers have indicated an increase in the demand for emergency contraception and testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) which is often an indicator of sexual violence in conflict. In addition, there are increasing reports of sexual violence against women and girls in a number of refugee camps.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of WHO and former Ethiopian minister from Tigray, on Wednesday, 14 December 2022, announced the murder of his uncle in the Tigray region.

Why the War?

Abiy Ahmed, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia in reaction to what he termed attacks on federal army camps by the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front, the ruling party in the Tigray region of Northern Ethiopia, deployed troops for a military offensive in Tigray. The conflict was the height of months of tensions and friction between the Ethiopian central government and the TPLF, which have dominated the country’s space for nearly 30 years before Abiy came to office in 2018.

Record of Events

November 4, 2020 – Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed deployed military forces against Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) in response to what he termed attacks on federal army camps by the TPLF.

November 9, 2020 – Amnesty International reported that nearly 600 civilians died in Mai kadra, a town in the southwest of Tigray, amid fighting between local fighters and federal troops.

November 26, 2020 – Abiy tweeted that Ethiopia forces have entered the last phase of its onslaught against the Tigray forces after the expiration of the 72-hour deadline to surrender.

February 26, 2021 – CNN reportage brings to the world’s notice, an eyewitness account of how the Eritrean soldiers opened fire at a church during a religious festival in Dengelat in 2020, where more than 20 persons were massacred.

February 26, 2021 – Amnesty International reported that on November 2020, hundreds of unarmed civilians were murdered in the city of Axum by Eritrean forces.

March 4, 2021 – Michele Bachelet, the Un High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an independent investigation of the human rights abuses in Tigray.

June 21, 2021 – United Nations in its report, warned of impending famine in Ethiopia, where about 350,000 people in the Tigray region are facing serious food insecurity.

June 28, 2021 – Ethiopian central government declared a unilateral ceasefire that followed the re-capture of Mekelle by Tigrayan forces.

August 10, 2021 – Amnesty International published its findings of widespread rape, sexual violence, and other atrocities perpetuated by the Eritrean Defense Force (EDF) and other allied forces.

September 17, 2021 – US government sanctioned Eritrea’s military along with other two entities and two individuals for their actions in the Tigray conflict.

November 2, 2021 – In reaction to the claim by the Tigray forces of gaining entrance into the major cities of Dessie and Kombolcha, the Attorney General of Ethiopia, Gideon Timotheos announced a state of emergency.

January 8, 2022 – Fifty-six civilians died, while 30 got wounded in an air strike on an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Tigray.

January 10, 2022 – US President spoke with the Ethiopian Prime Minister, advising the Ethiopian leader to negotiate a ceasefire to end the months of the war.

March 24, 2022 – The government of Ethiopia declared a halt to hostilities in other to pave way for food and other aid for the Tigray.

April 1, 2022 – Trucks conveyed more than 500 metric tons of aid supplies to Tigray after several months of a blockade.

June 14, 2022 – Ethiopian government formed a committee led by Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen to negotiate with the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front.

August 24, 2022 – Fighting resumed after three months of ceasefire.

September 11, 2022 – Tigray authorities accept to observe the ceasefire and the peace process led by the African Union.

 October 24, 2022 – Au envoy and former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, former South African deputy president Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka, and former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta facilitated an African Union-led peace meeting in Pretoria South Africa. The first formal peace talk to bring truce and cessation of hostilities was attended by Tigray delegates led by General Tsadkan Gebretensae and spokesman Getachew Reda, while Redwan Hussein led the Ethiopian government delegates.

November 2, 2022 – The two warring sides agreed to a permanent ceasefire after the one-week African Union-led negotiation in South Africa.

November 3, 2022 – This month marked exactly two years since the war started on November 4, 2020.

November 15, 2022 – Few days after the peace deal, the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) announced the arrival of a Medical Aid Convoy in the war-devastated Tigray region after months of aid blockade.

December 4, 2022 – General Tadesse Worede of the Tigray Forces announced the gradual withdrawal of their fighters in compliance with the Peace Meeting. He said that 65% of the fighters of the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front have withdrawn from the frontline.

Last Edited by:Sandra Appiah Updated: December 20, 2022


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