Tuesday September 21, 2021

Ethiopia’s Tigray crisis: Rebels vow to fight on until blockade ends

August 03, 2021

LONDON: The commander of the rebel group in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray has told the media they will continue fighting until their terms for a ceasefire are met.

Gen Tsadkan Gebretensae said the group aims to force the federal government to lift a blockade in the region and agree to a political solution to the crisis.

The government denies there is a blockade and has ruled out talks. Thousands have been killed since war broke out in November last year.

Millions of people have also been displaced by the fighting which both sides have been accused of committing human rights abuses and war crimes. At least 400,000 people are living in famine conditions, according to a UN estimate, with access to the region still being hampered. UN World Food Programme lorries did manage to reach Tigray at the weekend after a long delay because of security concerns.

However, Ethiopia’s Minister for Democracy Zadig Abraha has denied that the government had blocked humanitarian aid to Tigray. “In fact, our government supplied the most amount of humanitarian aid than all over partners combined,” he told the media.

He accused the rebels of “invoking the humanitarian aid discourse” to win sympathy from the international community. Despite the government announcing a unilateral ceasefire in June after the rebels made significant gains, including the recapture of the region’s capital, Mekelle, it has continued to mobilise militia from other parts of the country to help stall the rebels’ advance in neighbouring Afar and Amhara regions.

On Sunday, Gen Tsadkan, a former head of the Ethiopian army, told the Newshour programme that his fighters’ incursion to the neighbouring regions was aimed at removing a federal blockade that has prevented aid from coming through.