After over 2years of brutal war, the government of Ethiopia and rebels from the northern Tigray region have agreed to a permanent cessation of hostilities.
The war in Africa’s second-most populous country has seen abuses documented on both sides, with millions of people dead or displaced.
“The level of destruction is immense,” the lead negotiator for Ethiopia’s government, Redwan Hussein, said while his Tigray counterpart, Getachew Reda expressed a similar sentiment and noted that “painful concessions” had been made.
The full text of the agreement, including details on the disarmament and reintegration of Tigray forces, was not immediately available. “The devil will be in the implementation,” said former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who helped facilitate the talks.
However, Eritrea, which has fought alongside neighbouring Ethiopia, was not part of the peace talks which calls into question, how encompassing the ceasefire is to ensure success.
Forces from Ethiopia’s neighbouring Amhara region also have been fighting Tigray forces, but Amhara representatives are not part of the peace talks. “Amharas cannot be expected to abide by any outcome of a negotiations process from which they think they are excluded,” said Tewodrose Tirfe, chairman of the Amhara Association of America.
Another critical question is how soon aid can return to Tigray, whose communications and transport links have been largely severed since the conflict began. Doctors have described running out of basic medicines like vaccines, insulin and therapeutic food while people die of easily preventable diseases and starvation.
United Nations human rights investigators have said the Ethiopian government was using the “starvation of civilians” as a weapon of war.