The rebels in the Tigray region say they are open to negotiations, despite renewed fighting in northern Ethiopia. That said, they remain determined to continue advancing to “neutralize” the military reinforcements sent to “threaten” their region.
After a five-month lull, fighting resumed on August 24, around the southeastern tip of Tigray, between pro-government troops (federal army, regional forces and allied militias) and Tigrinya rebels who accuse each other of having unleashed hostilities .
“We are waging a defensive war” and “we remain open to any negotiations”, said Getachew Reda, spokesman for the rebel authorities in Tigray, in a “press release”, once again accusing Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government for having broken the truce respected since the end of March. He explained that after first “defending (their) positions”, the rebels had now launched a counter-offensive beyond the borders of Tigray.
Questioned on Tuesday, the Ethiopian government recalled its “efforts for peace and the concrete measures it has taken” in this direction, and said it was “once again determined to peacefully resolve the conflict once again unleashed” by the “terrorist” rebels of the Tigray.
On Saturday, the government announced that the army would withdraw from Kobo, a town in the Amhara region located about fifteen kilometers south of the Tigray, to “avoid huge casualties” among civilians in the face of an attack carried out “from multiple directions. “. the rebels.
In recent days, according to diplomatic, humanitarian and local sources, the rebels have advanced about fifty kilometers south, inside Amhara, as well as south-east in the Afar region.
On Tuesday, the APDA, an NGO active in Afar, said it had already identified 18,000 displaced persons in the region since the resumption of fighting and that it had reported an advance of Tigrinya rebels from Afar to the Amhara region that “will increase the number of displaced persons even more” . people”.
The roads “are blocked by people fleeing” from the advance of the rebels “towards the locality of Keliwan”, which its inhabitants “evacuate”, indicated the Apda on Twitter.
Journalists have no access to northern Ethiopia, making independent verification impossible. There, too, the mobile network and the Internet are uncertain and the situation on the ground is difficult to assess.
Getachew Reda said that “Abiy continues to miscalculate after a miscalculation by continuing to send reinforcements”: “We will continue to neutralize them, which will probably take us further and further into the Amhara region.”
“We are not particularly interested in controlling this area, but as long as the forces unleashed against us continue to threaten the safety of our people, we will continue to take appropriate action to neutralize them” and “this will determine where we stop.” “, he threatened.
The international community has multiplied in recent days the appeals for an end to hostilities and for dialogue. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres spoke in particular on 25 August with Abiy Ahmed, then with the leader of the rebel authorities of the Tigris, Debretsion Gebremichael.
Getachew said Abiy had “bewitched the international community into believing he was serious about peace.” “It seems obvious that we cannot count on the international community to detain Abiy (…) We must always depend on our strengths.”
Since June, the two sides had reiterated their readiness to negotiate, without ever ceasing to oppose the terms of future discussions.
The truce had allowed the resumption of the land delivery of humanitarian aid to Tigray, which had been interrupted for three months and which seems to be threatened again by the resumption of fighting.
The outcome of this murderous war is unknown. But according to the United Nations, it has caused the displacement of more than two million people and plunged hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians into conditions of near famine.
The region has also been deprived of electricity, telecommunications, banking or fuel for more than a year.