Ethiopia's government and Tigray forces agree to end fighting
Ethiopia's government and Tigray forces have agreed to a "cessation of hostilities" in the nearly two-year war that has killed thousands of people and led to one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, the African Union said Wednesday.
The big picture: UN leaders and aid groups recently issued dire warnings about the rapidly deteriorating situation in the Tigray, with WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus saying there was a "very narrow window" to "prevent genocide" the region.
Driving the news: The warring parties signed the agreement in South Africa a little over a week after African Union-mediated negotiations began there.
- "The two parties in the Ethiopian conflict have formally agreed to the cessation of hostilities as well as to systematic, orderly, smooth and coordinated disarmament," Olusegun Obasanjo, head of the African Union mediation team and former Nigerian president, said in Pretoria on Wednesday, per Reuters.
- The full text of the deal was not immediately released but Obasanjo said the agreement includes "restoration of law and order, restoration of services, unhindered access to humanitarian supplies, protection of civilians, especially women, children and other vulnerable groups."
- "This moment is not the end of the peace process. Implementation of the peace agreement signed today is critical for its success," Obasanjo added.
Catch up quick: Fighting between the Tigray People's Liberation Front and Ethiopian forces along with their Eritrean allies intensified last month as government forces captured three key cities in the region.
- The war, which began in November 2020, led to what the UN has described as a de facto aid blockade on Tigray. Thousands of people in Tigray have reportedly died due to starvation and disease, and millions have been displaced.
- Some aid arrived in the region after a ceasefire temporarily halted the worst of the fighting earlier this year, but that truce broke down in August. Fuel shortages and a communication blackout have since compounded humanitarian efforts.
What to watch: Major questions about the agreement remain.
- It is unclear if and when aid workers will gain access to the region.
- It's also not clear whether Eritrea, which has fought alongside the Ethiopian government in the region, will abide by the deal. Eritrean officials were not present at Wednesday's ceremony, according to the AP.
- Fighting has also spread to the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions. “Amharas cannot be expected to abide by any outcome of a negotiations process from which they think they are excluded,” said Tewodrose Tirfe, chairman of the Amhara Association of America, per AP.