By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
November 4, 2022 (NAIROBI) – Authorities in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region on Friday accused the Ethiopian government of carrying out drone strikes and heavy shelling targeting civilians in violation of the signed peace deal.
The fresh allegations come less than 48 hours after the two warring parties signed a peace deal to end one of the world’s recent deadliest civil war.
The Ethiopian government and rival Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), forces who control the northern Tigray region on Wednesday signed a “permanent cessation of hostilities”
Per the signed agreement, the warring parties will cease hostilities and “silence guns in principle” in the war-torn Tigray region, and work on ending the two-year war “without delay.”
The signing of the agreements, which came after ten days of intense negotiations, marks an important milestone in the AU-led mediation process that began on Tuesday 25 October in South Africa, in pursuit of a peaceful solution to the two-year-long conflict that has gripped the Horn of Africa’s nation.
What Were Agreed?
According to AU, the two sides agreed to a disarmament plan as well as unhindered access to humanitarian supplies, and resumption of suspended basic services to Tigray.
The parties have agreed on “systematic, orderly, smooth and coordinated disarmament, restoration of services, unhindered access to humanitarian supplies, protection of civilians, especially women children and other vulnerable groups,” said mediator and former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo.
The agreement also offers the “assurance of security for all concerned inside and outside Ethiopia.”
The breakthrough agreement sealed in South Africa has been hailed by the international community as a key step towards ending the two-year-old Tigray conflict.
But yet, a long journey awaits for the warring parties to reach and seal a permanent ceasefire.
Defying Peace Deal
One day after both sides agreed to silence the guns the Ethiopian military has allegedly continued to carry out deadly attacks defying the deal.
Tigray External Affairs Office representative, Professor Kindeya Gebrehiwot on Friday said that the Ethiopian military has carried out attacks targeting civilians in the Tigrayan city of Maychew.
The air raids were carried out on Thursday, less than 24 hours after the Pretoria peace agreement was inked.
“According to sources at Lemlem-Karl Hospital, drones of Ethiopia have attacked civilians,” he said in a tweet today.
“There was also shelling of artillery in the same city that killed and wounded civilians,” the official said without giving further details on the number of casualties.
He added that “This [the attack] happens after signing the peace agreement at Pretoria,”
Sudan Tribune was not able to independently verify the claims but the hospital yesterday shared footage of several injured civilians on social media platforms.
Ethiopian government officials didn’t immediately respond to requests from Sudan Tribune.
Rocky Road Ahead
Observers and diplomats have warned of a rocky road ahead, with the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Friday saying that arriving at a permanent ceasefire was “going to be very difficult.”
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the G7 foreign ministers’ meeting in the German city of Muenster, Borrell acknowledged that the agreement was “good news,” but cautioned: “Making peace is much more difficult than making war”
Since its breakout in November 2020, the Tigray conflict has claimed the lives of tens and thousands, uprooted millions and caused a grave humanitarian crisis, subjecting 90 per cent of the estimated seven million Tigray population to be aid-dependent, not to mention the destruction of property at alarming proportions.
“As many as half a million” people have been killed in the conflict, according to Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, who warned the UN Security Council last month of the potential for “mass atrocities” if the fighting continues.