US calls for restoration of essential services in Ethiopia’s Tigray

The The United States wants opposing parties involved in the conflict in Ethiopia to advance a negotiated ceasefire and restore essential services to the Tigray region, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday.

“We now urge the parties to seize the opportunity to advance a negotiated ceasefire, including necessary security arrangements, and call for the restoration of essential services in Tigray as a matter of urgency,” he said. in a press release.

The Ethiopian government said on Thursday that the Tigrayan rebel forces were still in the neighboring Afar region, although a spokesman for the Tigrayan forces had announced their withdrawal a few days earlier.

Government spokesman Legesse Tulu told state media that the news that the Tigrayan forces had left Afar was “big lies”.

Afar Police Commissioner Ahmed Harif told Reuters on Thursday that Tigrayan forces were still in four districts bordering Tigray – Koneba, Abala, Berhale and Magale – and had not moved since Monday.

Getachew Reda, spokesman for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the party that controls Tigray, did not respond to requests for comment. On Monday, he told Reuters that the Tigrayan forces were leaving Afar.

Tigrayan forces said they were withdrawing so that humanitarian convoys could enter.

Only a trickle of aid has reached famine-stricken Tigray, where more than 90 percent of the population has needed food aid since the Ethiopian army withdrew in late June.

The United Nations blamed government bureaucracy and fighting for blocking the convoys.

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Michelle J. Kelley