The United Nations supported the African Union’s call for a ceasefire in the Tigray War in Ethiopia on October 17th. In addition to a ceasefire, the A.U. also called for Eritrean forces to withdraw from Ethiopia as well as for peace talks between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Ethiopian Government. The peace talks between the two sides are planned to occur in South Africa next Monday. If peace talks and a ceasefire occur, it is possible that the Tigray War will end, and more aid will be sent to the Tigray Region.
After the A.U. called for a ceasefire, the TPLF and the Ethiopian Government both announced they supported the peace talks. According to the North Africa Post, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde said “[w]e continue to urge for negotiations without conditions, believing that any form of differences may be resolved through discussions.” ABC News reported Tigray forces said “[w]e are ready to abide by an immediate cessation of hostilities.” A ceasefire is also supported by Samantha Power, the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Power wanted more aid to be sent to the region and said, “[t]he [Tigray War] has displaced millions of people, and camps for displaced people have come under attack.”
Peace talks are important for stopping conflict in Tigray. However, it is possible that these types of talks will not be effective. According to Foreign Policy, the A.U. wanted to start peace talks in the past. These did not occur because the TPLF had wanted services – including electricity, phone, and banking services – to be sent to the region before the beginning of the talks, but this was opposed by the Ethiopian Government. Since the two sides have not been able to agree to peace talks in the past, it will likely be difficult for them to negotiate an end to the war.
Although the government of Ethiopia has prevented Tigray from receiving some services, a ceasefire will still be helpful as it will make it easier for other groups outside the country to bring aid to the region including the U.N., USAID, and the International Rescue Committee. Even though Eritreans are against the war, since the Tigray War began, Eritrea has sent 100,000 troops to fight against the TPLF. BBC reported thousands of people opposed to the war have tried to leave the country, but many have been detained at military camps. It is important for Eritrean forces to leave Ethiopia as it would decrease the number of troops fighting in the war, and people would be able to return to Eritrea without being detained.
The peace talks in South Africa were supposed to occur earlier on October 8th. However, these were postponed because the TPLF wanted more information about their structure, particularly they wanted to know who had been invited to participate in the talks. This is further evidence of the fact that it has been difficult for the two sides to agree to talks. Al Jazeera reported it is unlikely peace talks will be successful if either side opposes the mediators or disagrees on what should be discussed.
Although there have been problems planning peace talks, more is known about the structure of the talks that will occur next Monday. Africanews reported the A.U. appointed former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, and former South African Vice President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka to mediate the talks. The TPLF and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed still supported the peace talks after it was decided who would mediate them, making it possible for these talks to be effective.
A ceasefire and peace talks are needed to end the Tigray War. Researchers at Ghent University estimated 500,000 people have died since the war began. Fewer deaths would have occurred if the region received more aid, as most deaths were caused by famine and a lack of health care services. A ceasefire will allow the Tigray Region to receive some humanitarian aid, but Tigray is unlikely to receive services from Ethiopia before peace talks occur. This makes it important for the peace talks to be successful, and the A.U. needs to plan talks the TPLF and the Ethiopian Government can both support.
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