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News: 72 national and regional Civil Societies operating in Tigray request lifting of blockade on basic services

In March this year, the ICRC said that through free phone call service, its team in Mekelle heled “around 1,500 people per week to speak to their families”. Picture: ICRC

By Addis Standard Staff

Addis Abeba: A total of 72 national and regional civil societies operating in Tigray requested the immediate resumption of all basic public services that have been blockaded in Tigray for 15 months. The civil institutions said that due to the prohibition of basic services in Tigray, the people of Tigray are exposed to serious problems, according to a DW Amharic news report.

It was reported that basic services such as banking, telecommunications, and other related provisions have been shut down since June of last year, exacerbating the situation from ‘bad to worse’, according to Million Haileselassie of DW Amharic. Yared Bereh, chairman of the forenamed 72 civil societies coalition, has stated that the services should be reopened and suggested that the international community should scale up pressure in this regard. 

The Tigray Women’s Association, which has over 750,000 members, stressed that the conundrum in the region has been especially difficult on women. The General Manager of the association, Abeba Haileselassie said. ‘’ the money Tigray’s mothers have saved up in the bank is no longer accessible to them and as an outcome of this, their children are exposed to hunger. ‘’. She extended a plea to national and international organizations, alike to help alleviate the suffering. 

The resumption of basic services has been a sticking point in the anticipated peace talks between the Federal Government of Ethiopia (FGoE) and Tigrayan forces. The FGoE peace committee indicated on the 17th of August briefing to the diplomatic community in which thw committee noted that ‘   to facilitate an expedited resumption of basic services within the enabling environment that would be created once a ceasefire is concluded, all necessary preparations are being undertaken. 

On the other hand, a delegation of envoys inclusive of  U.S. Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa Mike Hammer, European Union Special Representative for the Horn of Africa Annette Weber, UN Under-Secretary-General & Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa Hanna Tetteh as well as Ambassadors of Canada, Italy, and the Deputy Head of Mission of the U.K. had traveled to Mekele, the regional capital of Tigray, where they held discussions with high-ranking officials including regional state president Debretsion Gebremichael (Ph.D.). 

The envoys returned with a letter of guarantees for the FGoE from Tigrayan authorities, a document which was said to provide guarantees for personnel who would travel to the region to restore basic services. This was expressed in a statement that came subsequent to the trip by the enjoys in which they emphasized, ‘’ a swift restoration of electricity, telecom, banking, and other basic services in Tigray is essential for the people of Tigray, as recognized in earlier discussions with the Ethiopian Government. ’’ The FGoE stated its dismay at the statement and accused the envoys of ‘ indulging in appeasement and fulfilling preconditions placed by the other party.’

Debretsion Gebremichael (Ph.D.) told Tigray TV  that, ‘Tigray wanted to end the war with a peaceful resolution, but to hold peace talks, certain preconditions must be met initially. Among others, basic services must be restored.’ This came in stark contrast to the FGoE’s position that peace talks should commence without any preconditions. AS 

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