Tigray’s terrorist group TPLF must be held to account by the international community.
Now, the international community must make a crucial decision — one that it has not made before.
The country’s hard-earned progress toward a lasting peace has been halted by the return of hostilities in northern Ethiopia last month. The fragile hope that Tigray, Afar, and Amhara had grasped at after nearly two years of war has been snatched away.
Now, the international community must make a crucial decision. This is something it has not done before. Either it can press the Tigray People’s Liberation Front to stop its violence and enter into peace talks or it can stay silent and empower them to continue their offensive.
New reports indicating that the TPLF may now be open to joining African Union (AU-mediated) talks are welcomed. They must keep their word.
A government-led truce has held firm since March. With more than 4,000 trucks transporting food, medicine, and other essential supplies to Tigray, the humanitarian ceasefire allowed for unprecedented humanitarian aid. In late July, the World Food Programme stated that there was no immediate threat of famine.
The fighting in Tigray ended in July 2021. Between then and the beginning of the humanitarian truce, the conflict was concentrated in the neighboring regions. The TPLF invaded Amhara and Amhara and occupied villages and towns. This caused great suffering for the Ethiopians who lived there. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International documented the TPLF’s use rape as a weapon in war, the killing of innocent civilians, looting of aid, and the destruction and destruction of public infrastructure.
After it became clear that its offensive was failing, the TPLF was pushed back towards Tigray’s borders and was forced to retaliate against the government’s ceasefire. The truce was used by the Ethiopian government to secure peace. However, the TPLF continues to bolster its forces. Multiple sources suggest that child soldiers were being recruited.
It was difficult to understand the latest violence because peace talks are ongoing. The government stated its willingness to engage in peace talks “anytime, anywhere”, without imposing any conditions. The AU’s role as mediator was appreciated and steps were taken for demonstrating our intent, including the release of TPLF prisoners.
The TPLF, however, published comments on August 22 rejecting the AU’s participation and outlined some unrealistic conditions that must be met before engaging.
Too long has it been left up to the Ethiopian government for the TPLF negotiations to take place. The government seems to have exhausted all options. It is time that the international community stops being silent about the actions of TPLF and calls on its leadership to surrender arms and join the AU-led negotiations.
It is crucial to act quickly. The United Nations and World Food Programme raised alarm on the first attack by notifying 12 tanks containing 570,000 liters of fuel stolen from a WFP warehouse at Mekelle. David Beasley, chief of WFP, stated that millions would starve if aid agencies are unable to deliver food.
A new round of conflict will not be in anyone’s best interests, especially for the six million Ethiopians who live in Tigray. Ethiopians want peace and to rebuild their lives and communities.
Although the Ethiopian government will defend its sovereignty and protect its citizens in any way, peace and unity are better than war or division.
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