ADDIS ABABA: The Tigray rebels, who have been fighting the Ethiopian army for 17 months, has agreed to a truce. The announcement came only hours after Ethiopia’s government declared an “unlimited humanitarian cease-fire.”
The rebels claimed they were “committed to implementing a truce of hostilities effective immediately” in a statement sent to a western news agency early Friday, and urged Ethiopian authorities to speed up the delivery of humanitarian food to Tigray, where hundreds of thousands fear hunger.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed called a surprise truce a day before the big announcement from Tigray rebels, saying it hoped the decision would allow humanitarian access to Tigray and “pave the way for the end of the crisis” in northern Ethiopia.
The crisis began when Abiy deployed troops to Tigray to dissolve the TPLF, the region’s former ruling party, claiming that the action was prompted by rebel attacks on army installations.
Fighting has continued for more than a year, resulting in a humanitarian disaster as reports of mass rapes and killings emerge, with both sides accusing one other of human rights violations.
According to the United Nations, more than 400,000 people were evacuated in Tigray.
In January, the World Food Programme said that almost 40% of Tigrayans were suffering from what it called “an extreme lack of food”. Nine million people need aid in Tigray and neighboring regions, which have also been affected by the fighting. Tigray has also been hit by a communications blackout with the internet and phone services cut.
The US, UN, and European Union have all welcomed the truce.