Tigray rebels leave Ethiopia’s Afar region: TPLF spokesperson

TPLF says rebels withdraw from the neighboring region but the Afar police commissioner says fighters remain in some districts

Tigray rebel forces have withdrawn from the neighboring region of Afar in Ethiopia, a spokesperson for the rebels has said, as the Afar police commissioner said rebels remained in several districts within the region.

Getachew Reda, a spokesperson for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), told the Reuters news agency on Monday that “our forces have left all of Afar”, adding that he hoped it meant that desperately needed food aid could finally arrive in Tigray

The police commissioner in Afar, Ahmed Harif, said Tigrayan forces had withdrawn from the town of Abala but were still in three of the region’s districts and were in control of the highway between Abala and Tigray’s capital Mekelle.

There was no immediate comment from the Ethiopian government and it was unclear if the pull-out was negotiated with Addis Ababa.

Workers clean the floor as sacks of food earmarked for the Tigray and Afar regions sit in piles in a warehouse of the World Food Programme (WFP) in Semera, the regional capital for the Afar region, in Ethiopia 

Northern Ethiopia has been beset by conflict since November 2020, when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into Tigray after accusing the ruling TPLF of attacks on federal army camps.

Thousands of people have been killed, and several million others have been displaced from their homes as a result of the fighting between forces loyal to Abiy and the TPLF and their allies.

Tigrayan forces said they would respect the ceasefire as long as sufficient aid was delivered to their region “within a reasonable time”.

The violence has eased since the federal government declared a unilateral ceasefire last month, saying it would allow humanitarian aid to enter.

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