By: Zahid Jadwat
Despite a spokesman for the Tigrayan forces announcing their departure earlier this week, the Ethiopian government said on Thursday that dissident Tigrayan forces are still in the neighbouring province of Afar.
Tigrayan forces remained in four districts bordering Tigray – Koneba, Abala, Berhale, and Magale – according to Afar Police Commissioner Ahmed Harif, who told Reuters on Thursday that they had not moved since Monday.
Legesse Tulu, a government spokesman, told state media that reports that Tigrayan forces had left Afar were “big lies.”
Getachew Reda, a spokesman for Tigray’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), did not respond to requests for comment. He told Reuters on Monday that Tigrayan forces were leaving Afar.
Tigrayan forces announced their withdrawal to allow humanitarian convoys to enter. Since the Ethiopian military withdrew at the end of June, only a trickle of aid has made it into famine-stricken Tigray, where more than 90% of the population requires food aid.
According to the United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP), 145 trucks have made it into Tigray since the ceasefire was declared. This is far short of the urgent requirement of at least 100 trucks per day.
The UN has blamed government bureaucracy and fighting for convoy blockades.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is accused by Tigrayan leaders of wanting to centralize power at the expense of the regions. They have also accused him of wanting to reclaim national power, which they lost when he was appointed in 2018.
The federal government declared a unilateral ceasefire on March 25 in order to allow humanitarian aid to enter. Tigrayan forces agreed to abide by the ceasefire if enough aid was delivered to their region “within reasonable time”.