Eduardo Soteras/AFP via Getty Images
The Ethiopian government on Monday declared an immediate, unilateral cease-fire in Tigray on humanitarian grounds.
Tigray is in the northernmost part of Ethiopia, with its regional government controlled by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. In November, fighting broke out between Ethiopian government forces and the TPLF, and since then, thousands of people in Tigray have been killed and many more displaced.
It has been difficult for journalists to get into Tigray, but people living there have reported gang rapes, forced starvation, and murders on the streets. Witnesses also said soldiers from neighboring Eritrea committed some of the worst atrocities, The Associated Press reports. Last week, the Ethiopian military conducted an airstrike against a market in Tigray, killing more than 60 people.
The Ethiopian government appointed an interim administration in Tigray, and on Monday, they fled Mekele, the regional capital. Ethiopian troops captured Mekele in late November, and when Tigray forces began their return on Monday, residents cheered, AP reports.
In a statement, the Ethiopian government said the cease-fire will “enable farmers to till their land” and “aid groups to operate without any military movement around,” and will last until the end of planting season in September. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he is “hopeful that an effective cessation of hostilities will take place.”