Eritrea has agreed to withdraw troops from Tigray, Ethiopia says

WION Web Team
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Published: Mar 27, 2021, 11:20 AM(IST)

Refugees gather for lunch donated by the local population at a makeshift camp situated inside a secondary school for internally displaced people in Mekelle, capital of the Tigray region of Ethiopia, on March 1, 2020. Accounts of atrocities keep coming in as the wounded flee to Mekelle, where Tigrayans say they are being winnowed for their leaders’ rebellion. (The New York Times) Photograph:( The New York Times )

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Abiy only in the past week has acknowledged the presence of soldiers from Eritrea, long an enemy of the Tigray leaders who once dominated Ethiopia’s government.

Ethiopia’s prime minister has confirmed that Eritrea agreed to withdraw its forces from the Tigray region, where they had been described to have carried out looting, killing and raping.

The statement by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office comes after intense pressure from the United States and others to address the deadly crisis in Tigray.

The Ethiopian forces will take over guarding the border areas “effective immediately,” the statement added.

Abiy only in the past week has acknowledged the presence of soldiers from Eritrea, long an enemy of the Tigray leaders who once dominated Ethiopia’s government.

His statement accuses the former Tigray leaders of starting the conflict by attacking Ethiopian forces, then drawing Eritrea into the fighting by firing rockets into Eritrea’s capital. But witnesses have alleged the involvement of Eritrean soldiers from the start of the fighting.

Abiy shocked the region in 2018 by making peace with Eritrea after a long border war in the Tigray region, an achievement for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But since the current Tigray conflict began in November, Abiy has been accused of teaming up with Eritrea to pursue the now-fugitive Tigray leaders.

The US weeks ago demanded that Eritrean soldiers leave Tigray immediately, and pressure increased in recent days with the Joe Biden administration dispatching Sen. Chris Coons to Ethiopia nearly a week ago for hours of talks with Abiy.

No one knows how many thousands of people, especially civilians, have been killed in the Tigray fighting.

Only in recent days has the United Nations Human Rights office said it’s been allowed into the Tigray region in a limited capacity to support investigations into alleged atrocities including mass rapes by Eritrean soldiers and others.

(with inputs from agencies)

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