Can Ethiopia’s ‘truce’ end its devastating civil war?

Seventeen months into a brutal civil war, the Ethiopian government announced on Friday that it had declared a unilateral truce, ostensibly to facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid and end the conflict without further bloodshed.The UN, US and a host of European states have already commended the development.

Hours later, the development was acknowledged by the other warring faction in the TPLF (Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front)-led Tigray regional government, which itself issued a statement expressing readiness to end the war if badly needed humanitarian aid is delivered to millions of Tigrayans threatened by famine.

It is the first time since hostilities broke out that both sides have expressed willingness to halt fighting, a breakthrough of sorts in an atmosphere where threats of annihilation and even hate speech have become commonplace, on both sides.

The United States welcomes and strongly supports the declaration today [by Ethiopia] of an indefinite humanitarian truce,” read a statement by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Aid agencies have previously accused the Ethiopian government of enacting a humanitarian aid blockade to Tigray, where UN agencies estimate that some 40% of the region’s six million inhabitants suffer from an “extreme” lack of food.

And now, neither the TPLF nor the government has disclosed details of the ceasefire, when aid will arrive or even how aid convoys carrying urgent aid will navigate the heavily militarized roads to Tigray. There has also been no word on whether Ethiopia is contemplating restoring Tigray’s banking and communications services severed since July.

“Our position is clear,” Fesseha Tessema, TPLF adviser and a former Ethiopian diplomat told Al Jazeera. “We are ready to observe a ceasefire for humanitarian operations and for public services to be restored. But there have been no developments on the ground until this day.”

Seventeen months into a brutal civil war, the Ethiopian government announced on Friday that it had declared a unilateral truce, ostensibly to facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid and end the conflict without further bloodshed.The UN, US and a host of European states have already commended the development.

Hours later, the development was acknowledged by the other warring faction in the TPLF (Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front)-led Tigray regional government, which itself issued a statement expressing readiness to end the war if badly needed humanitarian aid is delivered to millions of Tigrayans threatened by famine.

It is the first time since hostilities broke out that both sides have expressed willingness to halt fighting, a breakthrough of sorts in an atmosphere where threats of annihilation and even hate speech have become commonplace, on both sides.

The United States welcomes and strongly supports the declaration today [by Ethiopia] of an indefinite humanitarian truce,” read a statement by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Aid agencies have previously accused the Ethiopian government of enacting a humanitarian aid blockade to Tigray, where UN agencies estimate that some 40% of the region’s six million inhabitants suffer from an “extreme” lack of food.

And now, neither the TPLF nor the government has disclosed details of the ceasefire, when aid will arrive or even how aid convoys carrying urgent aid will navigate the heavily militarized roads to Tigray. There has also been no word on whether Ethiopia is contemplating restoring Tigray’s banking and communications services severed since July.Paragraph

“Our position is clear,” Fesseha Tessema, TPLF adviser and a former Ethiopian diplomat told Al Jazeera. “We are ready to observe a ceasefire for humanitarian operations and for public services to be restored. But there have been no developments on the ground until this day.”

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