Jun 28, 2021 - World

Ethiopia declares ceasefire in Tigray after nearly 8 months of violence

Photo of a masked Abiy Ahmed wearing a suit amid a crowd of other people in formal clothing

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (C) arrives in Jimma on June 16, 2021. Photo: Marco Longari/AFP via Getty Images

Ethiopia's government declared an immediate, unilateral ceasefire in its Tigray region on Monday after nearly eight months of deadly violence, AP reports.

Why it matters: The crisis in Tigray has killed thousands of civilians and displaced 1.7 million people, per the New York Times. Over 900,000 people are facing the world's worst famine in a decade. Government forces have also been accused of ethnic cleansing and sexual violence.

  • Tigray's interim administration, which was appointed by the federal government, urged for a ceasefire on humanitarian grounds after fleeing the regional capital, Mekele.
  • "The government has the responsibility to find a political solution to the problem," said Abraham Belay, the head of Tigray's interim administration. He added that some of Tigray’s former ruling party members are willing to engage with federal officials.

What they're saying: The ceasefire "will enable farmers to till their land, aid groups to operate without any military movement around and engage with remnants (of Tigray’s former ruling party) who seek peace," the government's statement said, per AP.

  • The ceasefire will last until September, when a crucial planting season in Tigray comes to an end. The government's efforts to pursue Tigray's former leaders will continue, the statement noted.
  • Tigray fighters did not immediately comment, per AP. Mekele residents cheered as Tigray forces arrived in the regional capital late Monday, according to Reuters.
  • "The capital of Tigray, Mekele, is under our control," Getachew Reda, spokesperson for the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), told Reuters.

Catch up quick: Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched an offensive in Tigray in November, intent on "breaking the power" of the TPLF, a political group that has dominated Ethiopia for almost 30 years, the Times writes.

The big picture: Ethiopia recently held long-delayed elections. Millions were prevented from voting due to security or logistical concerns while others boycotted the vote, citing the repression of opposition parties.

Go deeper