Politics

Major cities in Amhara region gradually return to normalcy after gov’t forces reclaim control – residents

Addis Abeba – Major cities in the Amhara region are gradually returning to a state of normalcy after the Command Post overseeing the state of emergency declared in the region mandated a curfew and advised service providers, government offices, and commercial entities to recommence activities.

A resident of Bahir Dar told Addis Standard that the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) now holds full control over the city. “While there’s a noticeable restoration of order,” the resident who asked anonymity noted, “vehicular movements are primarily limited to ENDF vehicles.” Despite these limitations, Bahir Dar’s residents are making do by navigating on foot and using bicycles, particularly after major roadways were cleared of obstructions, the resident shared.

Another Bahir Dar local, residing near the area known as ‘ye diro dipo’ adjacent to the regional education bureau, informed Addis Standard of some positive changes. “Electricity services have been reinstated and hospitals are fully operational,” she reported. However, she highlighted a persistent gap in the resumption of banking services.

Separately, a resident from Shewa Robit, located in “enterku”, conveyed to Addis Standard that intra-city movement has picked up pace. Most vehicular traffic, barring Bajajs, is flowing smoothly both internally and toward Addis Ababa. While most vital services are up and running, banks continue to remain non-operational, the resident disclosed.

On Thursday, Reuters News agency reported quoting residents that government forces gained control of Gondar, Amhara’s second-biggest city, and entered the holy town of Lalibela on Wednesday after the militiamen left.

Late Thursday, the Command Post overseeing the state of emergency in the region announced to have freed cities and towns from the armed group and subsequently imposed curfews in major cities and towns, also issuing notice to public service providers, government, community and commercial establishments in Bahir Dar, Gonder, Debre Birhan, Debre Markos, Showa Robit and Lalibela cities to resume work as of 10 August.

The command post restricted movements of people and vehicles after 7:00 PM local time in all these cities and towns except for emergency medical service vehicles, emergency medical service professionals and authorities of security institutions.

Reports indicate that the conflict has already claimed many lives including dozens of civilians triggering condemnations from rights organizations. The Ethiopian Civil Society Organizations Council (ECSOC) said in a statement sent to Addis Standard that it realized that the conflict is taking place in densely populated areas, notably cities, thereby causing the loss of innocent lives, restricting the fundamental rights of citizens. The council urged the parties involved in the conflict to prioritize seeking a peaceful and lasting solution.

The UN Human Rights Council mandated International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE) expressed deep concern about the reported deteriorating security situation in Amhara region, and urged the government to strictly adhere to the principles of necessity, proportionality, and non-discrimination while executing the state of emergency declared in the region.

The Commission also called “on all sides to respect human rights and take steps to de-escalate the situation and prioritize processes for the peaceful resolution of differences”. AS

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