'Hope and calm' in Ethiopia's Tigray as flights resume and services restored

Humanitarian aid flows and rebels hand over weapons after two years of war with government

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The streets of Tigray's capital Mekelle are busy and civilian life is returning to normal after the resumption of basic services, an official said.

With humanitarian activities “stepped up”, commercial flights resumed and basic services improving, “hope and calm” have been brought to Tigray, East African regional group IGAD official Mohamed Ali Guyo told The National.

“Banking, electricity, water and telecommunications are being restored, and the air link between Mekelle and Addis Ababa, which has been down since the war began in 2020, is now up and running,” said the Special Envoy for the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Somalia, who was in Mekelle in December.

IGAD is behind a November 2 peace deal that saw Tigray People's Liberation Front rebels begin to hand over their weapons on Tuesday after a monitoring and verification process began recently to oversee the ceasefire.

The war began in November 2020 after the Ethiopian government sent troops to Tigray to dismantle the rebel group which it accused of launching attacks on federal army camps.

“Key officers from Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria will report on any violation of the ceasefire,” Mr Guyo said.

Watch: Families reunite at Addis Ababa airport as flights from Tigray resume

Watch: Families reunite at Addis Ababa airport as flights from Tigray resume

Next steps

The war between the TPLF and Ethiopian government under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been devastating, displacing over two people million, causing thousands of refugees to pour into neighbouring Sudan and rendering 2.3 million people in need of assistance, aid groups say.

The November deal signed in South Africa's administrative capital Pretoria requires rebels to disarm and be reintegrated into society.

“We will continue peace implementation and peace-building,” Mr Guyo said.

However, deputy Africa director of Human Rights Watch Carine Kaneza Nantulya said a close eye must be kept on the overall process, after numerous accounts of sexual violence and looting were reported.

“International scrutiny will be key to ensuring that the warring parties, which have committed widespread abuses, don't prolong the harm to the civilian population,” Ms Nantulya said shortly after the deal was signed.

With reporting from AFP

Updated: January 12, 2023, 5:19 AM