Ethiopia, Tigray peace talks continue in South Africa

PRETORIA— The Ethiopian peace talks in South Africa – which had been widely expected to end on Sunday Oct 30 – continued into Monday, sources said.

 

It was not clear how well the discussions between the warring parties, the Ethiopian federal government and the Tigray government were progressing.

 

Formal talks after two years of war between the Ethiopian federal forces and the northern region of Tigray opened in South Africa on Oct 25.

 

The African Union, as mediator, is aiming to broker an end to the conflict, which has killed thousands and displaced millions, placing a large section of the population on the brink of famine.

 

The talks come at a time when Ethiopian government forces and allied troops from neighbouring Eritrea have started to take some urban parts of Tigray province. Intensified fighting in the past two months has raised fears about the possibility of mounting civilian casualties.

 

The discussions are being facilitated by AU representative Olusegun Obasanjo, who is the former Nigerian president. He is being supported by Kenya’s former president Uhuru Kenyatta and South Africa’s fomer vice-president, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

 

The US has urged the delegations to engage seriously in these talks to reach a lasting resolution to the conflict, saying it is essential to achieve an immediate cessation of hostilities.

 

Meanwhile, a new report by UNICEF says since fighting resumed in late August in Northern Ethiopia, approximately 574,000 people have been additionally displaced in conflict affected Afar, Amhara, and Tigray regions.

 

According to the report the total number of people in need of humanitarian assistance throughout Ethiopia stands at 29.7 million out of whom 12.5 million are children.

 

In the most affected Tigray region, due to “continued airstrikes and shelling on multiple fronts, more than 210,000 people have been newly displaced since the resumption of fighting in late August”, the report added.

 

Additional 163,709 people in Afar, in conflict-affected zones bordering Tigray have been displaced as of Sept 30, while more than 200,000 people in Amhara, in North Wollo and Wag Hemra zones have also been newly displaced according to the report.

 

In Tigray “there was an approximately 84 percent reduction in the number of children and pregnant and lactating women (PLW) accessing primary healthcare services from August to September” the report says.

 

In North Wollo, North and West Gondar, and Wag Hemra zones of the Amhara region, where 625 schools are closed due to the renewed conflict, more than 500,000 children have been left without access to education UNICEF said.

 

Despite constraints the organization said it has supported the provision of primary health care services to 23,062 children and women in Tigray, Afar and Amhara.

 

UNICEF’s latest report comes amid growing international calls for immediate cessation of hostilities and resumption of delivery of much needed humanitarian aid to avert the looming crisis.

 

 

Source: Nam News Network

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