The arms handover, which has begun, is one of the conditions of the ceasefire agreed between the Tigray rebels and the Ethiopian government.
Tigrayn the rebels in the region say they have started handing over their weapons to the Ethiopian army, the news agency AFP and the British newspaper say The Guardian. Handing over weapons is one of the main terms of the ceasefire signed between the rebels and the Ethiopian government in November.
The arms handover in the town of Agula, near Mekele, the Tigray state capital, was overseen by a monitoring team made up of representatives from both sides and representatives of the East African Regional Development Organization (IGAD).
“We hope and expect that this will contribute to the speedy and full implementation of the agreement”, the representative of the rebels Getachew Reda wrote the messaging service on Twitter on Wednesday.
IGAD spokesperson Nur Mohamud Sheikh said he was impressed with how well the terms of the truce had been followed. However, access to Tigray is still very limited, so according to AFP, the information cannot be independently confirmed.
Other terms of the ceasefire, besides disarmament, include the return of services and humanitarian aid to the Tigray region, and the withdrawal of Eritrean forces that fought in cooperation with the Ethiopian army from the region.
The battles ended after the ceasefire and the rebels have said they have “detached” 65 percent of their fighters from the front lines.
However, the famine plaguing the region has not yet eased, even though humanitarian aid has returned to the region. The city of Mekele was reconnected to Ethiopia’s electricity grid on December 6, and on December 19, Ethiopia’s main bank, CBE, said it was resuming operations in the city. The restoration of telephone networks has also started.
Tigray was cut off from Ethiopian and world communication networks for about a year and a half as of 2021.
The battles started in 2020 when the Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed sent the army to overthrow Tigray leaders who had threatened his position and, according to Ahmed, attacked the state’s military bases.
It is not possible to reliably estimate the number of victims of the two-year conflict or its other effects.
According to the UN, more than two million Ethiopians have been forced to flee their homes and hundreds of thousands are on the brink of starvation, reports AFP.
The think tank The International Crisis Group and the human rights organization Amnesty have described the conflict as “one of the deadliest in the world.”
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Correction 12.1.2023 at 10:29: In the earlier version of the news, it was wrongly written about “the intergovernmental development authority IDAG”. However, it is the East African regional development organization IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development).