On March 24, the government of Ethiopia declared “an immediate humanitarian truce”, whose duration is “indefinite”. In a written statement, the government pledges to provide the necessary humanitarian aid to the Tigrinya population, as “alleviating the plight of those affected by the conflict is the highest priority.” Furthermore, the government hopes that this will “pave the way for the resolution of the conflict in northern Ethiopia without further bloodshed.”
The TPLF’s response was not long in coming and, on the same day, declared its acceptance of the truce. The condition that the TPLF poses, however, is at the same time peremptory: if the aid arrives, in a reasonable amount of time, then the TPLF will implement the government’s truce proposal. Furthermore, the Tigray Liberation Front calls on “the Ethiopian authorities to go beyond empty promises and take concrete steps to facilitate unrestricted humanitarian access to Tigray,” expressing outrage at the connection between political and humanitarian issues but nevertheless accepting the truce proposal.
Abiy’s move came as a surprise shortly after the visit of the US government’s special envoy for the Horn of Africa, David Satterfield, who then declared that the truce “should serve as an essential foundation for an inclusive political process”.
Getachew Reda, spokesperson for the TPLF, then said on March 26 that despite the government’s offer which the TPLF has conditionally accepted “nothing has arrived in Tigray yet.” He goes on to wonder if humanitarian aid will also be allowed in other neighboring regions affected by the conflict. The UN estimates that at least 100 trucks with humanitarian aid arrive every day while there are about 9 million people between Tigray, Afar and Amhara in need of food aid. So, this week will be crucial to see if indeed the effort of the two parties in conflict will lead to a change in the situation on the ground or if no truce will actually be implemented.
Meanwhile, other commentators wonder if, in addition to the ceasefire and humanitarian aid, the government will also allow the electricity, banking and telecommunications systems to function again.
However, also on March 26, the head of the Amhara State government publicly stated that the Ethiopian Defense Forces are putting together a plan to end the war and that they are practicing, reorganizing and strengthening and that the Amhara is building a large army. He further stated that “action is needed to end the war.”
At the same time numerous commentators on twitter let it be known that after more than 72 hours still no humanitarian aid has reached Tigray. Sources close to the TPLF say that on March 27 several military vehicles loaded with troops are instead approaching the Tigrayan border. At the moment a fundamental doubt arises: is the truce declared by Abiy just a smokescreen behind which a further governmental offensive is hidden?