The Ethiopian government announced on Wednesday that it would support an immediate ceasefire between its security forces and Tigrayan rebels in order to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in the country’s north.
An Ethiopian government committee established to study the possibility of such a ceasefire in June made its findings public on Wednesday, indicating that it had written a “peace proposal” as a draft agreement for a ceasefire between the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF.
“In order to ensure a sustained provision of humanitarian aid as well as to facilitate the resumption of basic services and also to resolve the conflict peacefully…the committee has underscored that there is a need to conclude a ceasefire agreement as soon as possible,” the group’s statement read. “To expedite this process, the committee has deliberated upon and adopted a peace proposal that would lead to the conclusion of a ceasefire and lay the foundation for future political dialogue.”
However, the TPLF indicated that it would not accept the proposed agreement, insisting that the Ethiopian government was responsible for the worsened conditions in Tigray and describing the committee’s proposal as a distraction from further government offensives.
“The so-called Peace Committee established by the [Abiy government] is engaged in its usual game of obfuscation to hoodwink the international community while its forces are actively provoking our forces in various fronts,” Getachew Reda, a spokesperson for the TPLF, tweeted. “They have openly defied their oft-repeated promise to take measures aimed at creating [a] conducive environment for peaceful negotiations[,] such as ensuring unfettered humanitarian access and restoration of services to Tigray”—a demand that TPLF leaders have insisted upon as a precondition to peace negotiations.
Reda added that the government had “made it abundantly clear that it has no appetite for peaceful negotiations except as delaying tactics.”
Ethiopia’s ongoing civil war began in November 2020 after Ethiopian troops invaded Tigray to dislodge the TPLF from Mekelle, the region’s capital city. Although the government scored a series of initial successes, its gains have since been reversed, and the TPLF now controls all of Tigray and some areas in the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions. The conflict in Ethiopia’s north has led to a situation that the World Health Organization (WHO) recently described as the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” with poorer conditions than war-torn Yemen or Ukraine.
Although the violence in the north has eased since the beginning of the year—in large part due to a “humanitarian truce” in March—Tigray remains largely cut off from the outside world, with little access to food and a dearth of basic services such as electricity and Internet.
Trevor Filseth is a current and foreign affairs writer for the National Interest.