News: Efforts to fully return IDPs to Western and Southern Tigray, install new administrations underway – Defense minister

Abreham Belay (PhD) Defense Minister (Photo: Abreham Belay/Facebook

Addis Abeba – Ethiopian Defense Minister, Abreham Belay (PhD) said works are underway to return to their homes hundreds of thousands of people displaced from Western and Southern Tigray, during the two years war between Ethiopian government and the TPLF.

The minister said, in his congratulatory message in connection with the annual Ashenda festival, the people of Tigray didn’t yet fully recover from the aftermath of the war and those displaced and subjected to persecution have not yet returned to their homes.

He noted that subsequent to a decision made by the federal government in the presence of leaders of Amhara and Tigray regional states, activities have started to fully return people who were displaced from areas currently under occupation of the Amhara region. 

Abraham, who was the head of the interim administration put in place by the federal government in Tigray during the war, said the status-quo would be restored in these areas in accordance with the Pretoria peace agreement, adding that any questions that may arise in this regard would be resolved only through constitutional means.

He further noted that the current administration installed in Western and Southern Tigray following the occupation of these areas by Amhara forces would be dismantled and a new administration elected by the people would be put in place in a shorter time.

He added that the National Defense Forces have taken responsibility for maintaining peace and security and no other armed groups are allowed to operate in these areas. Based on the provisions of the constitution a referendum would be organized when the people are ready and if there is a need, he said.

Hundreds of thousands of people displaced from Western and Southern parts of Tigray over which the Amhara region have had a long lasting claim remain in IDP camps in different parts Tigray amidst dire situations. These areas came under the control of the Amhara forces within weeks of the outbreak of the Tigray war in November 2020, and remained under their occupation even after the war was ended through a negotiated settlement two years later.

Authorities in Tigray have been asking the federal government to enforce the withdrawal of the Amhara forces from the Tigray regional state territories on the account of the Pretoria peace deal which states for “contested areas” to be resolved constitutionally.

Rights groups have been accusing security forces and the local administration assigned by the Amhara region particularly in Western Tigray of committing ethnic cleansing against Tigrayans. AS

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