Noah Pitcher is a global politics correspondent for Today News Africa covering the U.S. government, United Nations, African Union, and other actors involved in international developments, political controversies, and humanitarian issues.
Ethiopia’s government declared Monday an immediate and unilateral cease-fire in the Tigray region, where millions are at risk of famine after nearly eight months of violent conflict that has destabilized the region.
The cease-fire comes amid news that Tigray rebels have taken over the regional capital of Mekelle, forcing the interim administration to flee and Ethiopian federal forces to retreat.
The Ethiopian government says that the cease-fire will “enable farmers to till their land, aid groups to operate without any military movement around and engage with remnants who seek peace.”
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For months now, the international community has grown increasingly outspoken about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, condemning the atrocities and calling for peaceful resolution.
The United States and European Union have on multiple occasions demanded an immediate cessation of hostilities and the complete withdrawal of Eritrean troops from the region.
As the conflict has dragged on for nearly eight months now, millions of Tigrayans have been displaced from their homes and regional food supplies have been devastated. The US, EU, and United Nations have all expressed the dire importance of urgent unfettered humanitarian assistance to the region, as livelihoods depend on it.
Up this point, these pleas had all been met without cooperation from Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the Ethiopian government, and the Eritrean government.
For millions throughout Tigray, Ethiopia, and countless people around the world, the announcement of an immediate and unilateral cease-fire sends a message of hope that such a development could ease the violent and detrimental conflict that has been going on for nearly eight months now.
“I am hopeful that an effective cessation of hostilities will take place. It is essential that civilians are protected, humanitarian aid reach the people in need and a political solution is found,” said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
A region that has been ravaged by human rights atrocities, war crimes, and widespread violence, Tigray is at a critical point and unrestrained humanitarian assistance to the region with the cooperation of Ethiopian leadership is imperative to resolving a horrific humanitarian crisis and severe famine.