Hope for de-escalation in Ethiopia

WAs the fighting continues in Ethiopia, international actors are looking for ways to initiate a dialogue between the warring parties. The special envoy of the African Union (AU) for the Horn of Africa, the former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, spoke of a “window of opportunity” that he sees for this. But there is not much time for a de-escalation of the conflict between the central government and the forces from the Tigray region and their allies.

Obasanjo reported to the United Nations Security Council from Addis Ababa on Monday evening after holding talks in Ethiopia over the weekend, including with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, but also with representatives of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in the regional capital Mekele as well with politicians from the Oromia region.

“All leaders here in Addis Ababa and in the north individually agree that the differences between them are political and require political solutions through dialogue,” Obasanjo said. So far, the main forces on both sides, especially in the government, have refused to enter into a dialogue.

400,000 people go hungry

On Tuesday, the AU special envoy wanted to travel to the Amhara and Afar regions. They border on Tigray, the region in northern Ethiopia where the conflict between Prime Minister Abiy and the TPLF turned into violence at the beginning of November last year. Since the TPLF troops went on the offensive in the summer, violence has also spread to Amhara and Afar, displacing thousands of people there.

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Obasanjo said he hoped there would be an agreement by the end of the week on the withdrawal of foreign troops from the areas and on ways to provide humanitarian aid. Above all in Tigray the conditions are catastrophic. According to the UN, more than five million people there are dependent on help, around 400,000 are acutely hungry. Accordingly, no aid deliveries have reached the region blocked by the government since October 18. The government says the TPLF is responsible for this.


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