TPLF announce retreat to Tigray
The Tigrayan rebels, TPLF, announce they are retreating from northern Ethiopia toward their region, constituting a new turning point for the 13-month-long conflict.
The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) announced Monday they had withdrawn from Amhara and Afar, two northern Ethiopian regions, and retreated to Tigray, which constitutes a turning point in the 13-month war that left thousands dead.
"We decided to withdraw from these areas to Tigray. We want to open the door to humanitarian aid," TPLF spokesperson Getachew Reda, said.
The decision was made a few weeks ago, Getachew said, later tweeting: "We have just completed the withdrawal of our forces from both Amhara and Afar regions."
We have just completed the withdrawal of our forces from both #Amhara regions. By doing so, we believe we have taken away whatever excuse the the international community to explain its feet-dragging when it comes to putting pressure on #AbiyAhmed & his regional partners in— Getachew K Reda (@reda_getachew) December 20, 2021
This move makes for a major reversal by the TPLF, who had previously dismissed the government's insistence on their withdrawal from Afar and Amhara for talks to begin as "an absolute non-starter."
'Security' obstructing humanitarian aid to Tigray
Aid workers have repeatedly complained that security and bureaucracy had been impeding access to Tigray, where the UN believes some 400,000 people are on the verge of famine.
The United Nations had suspended humanitarian flights from Addis Ababa to Tigray's capital since October in light of an airstrikes campaign on the region.
The fighting between the TPLF and the Ethiopian government has led to the displacement of over two million people and pushed hundreds of thousands to the brink of famine, the UN estimates.
Several states had urged the UN Human Rights Council to send international investigators to Ethiopia amid warnings of looming generalized violence.
UNHCR deputy rights chief Nada al-Nashif warned that Ethiopia's 13-month Tigrayan conflict could "escalate into generalized violence" during an emergency meeting of the UN body.
The meeting itself was called to consider launching an international investigation into allegations of severe abuses in Ethiopia, including mass killings and numerous degrees of violence.
"The gravity and scale of violations and atrocities committed against civilians by all sides, including sexual and gender-based violence and ethnic violence, is unacceptable," Slovenian ambassador Anita Pipan said on behalf of the EU.
The northern Ethiopian region has seen escalating fighting between the government and the Tigrayan rebels since November 2020.
The TPLF had recaptured in June the majority of the region, continuing their advances in neighboring Amhara and Afar.