News: IDPs in Tigray rally for repatriation, urging proper implementation of the Pretoria agreement

In addition to advocating for the proper implementation of the Pretoria Peace Agreement, the IDPs participating in today’s demonstration in Shire town called for a peaceful return and humanitarian assistance (Photo: Tigray TV)

Addis Abeba – Today, displaced individuals who are residing in different internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps within the Tigray region orchestrated a substantial demonstration, articulating their dissatisfaction with the prevailing circumstances related to the execution of the Pretoria Peace Agreement.

The IDPs located in prominent urban centers of Tigray, namely Shire, Adigrat, and Aksum, urgently appealed for decisive measures to expedite their repatriation to their hometowns, presently under the control of Eritrean forces and Amhara militias.

In an interview with Addis Standard, Tsegay Weldemelak, coordinator of the demonstration representing the IDP camps situated in Shire town, underscored the critical nature of the situation. He pointed out significant challenges related to hunger and an absence of medical aid.

Tsegay emphasized that the protest serves a dual purpose: addressing immediate humanitarian concerns surrounding starvation and medical shortages in IDP camps while concurrently advocating for the repatriation of IDPs to their respective homes.

“The gravity of the famine within IDP camps is beyond description,” Tsegay asserted. “We are witnessing daily fatalities attributable to hunger, and we earnestly implore the international community to direct its attention to our distressing situation.”

Despite the passage of over a year since the signing of the Pretoria Peace Agreement in November 2022, the process of reintegrating IDPs into their homes remains a multifaceted challenge, intensifying the adversities encountered by those affected by the conflict.

According to the United Nations, over one million individuals remain internally displaced in Tigray, with a substantial number originating from western Tigray.

Bahta Tesfay, the coordinator of the demonstration organized by IDPs in Adigrat, communicated to Addis Standard that the demonstration sought to implore the Tigray interim administration, the federal government, and the international community to honor the commitments delineated in the Pretoria Peace Agreement and expedite the repatriation of IDPs to their respective hometowns.

Chants bearing messages such as “Cease illegal demographic alterations,” “Settlers shall not alter the identity of Tigrayans,” “Repatriate IDPs to their homes,” and “Enforce the Pretoria agreement” resonated across the thoroughfares, with protesters urging prompt consideration of their predicament.

In accordance with Article 5, Sub-Article (3), the federal government of Ethiopia commits to facilitating the return and reintegration of internally displaced persons and refugees whenever the security situation allows.

In March last year, hundreds of thousands of IDPs staged massive protests in major cities of the region, calling on NGOs and the government to facilitate resumption of suspended humanitarian aid and their safe return to home.

More than one year after the signing of the Pretoria permanent cessation of hostilities between the federal government and the TPLF, Tigray region remains the second largest region in Ethiopia after the Somali region where IDPs remain in makeshift shelters. Tigray saw one of the harshest displacement patterns following the outbreak of the atrocious war in November 2020, leaving more than two million people internally displaced as early into the war as 2021, making the region number one in the number of conflict-related displacement in Ethiopia.

More than 70, 000 people alone crossed the border into Sudan, especially from western Tigray, where, according to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International report, they faced “relentless campaign of ethnic cleansing by security forces from the neighboring Amhara region and their allies.”

Two months ago, the federal government pledged to fully execute the Pretoria Peace Agreement, notwithstanding delays encountered from the Tigray interim administration, particularly in the process of disarming former combatants.

In a statement released by the federal government’s Communication Service on the agreement’s first anniversary, it expressed resolute determination to uphold its obligations outlined in the pact, aiming to consolidate peace in the region.

Nevertheless, the Tigray Interim Administration lodges an accusation against the federal government, asserting a failure to implement the peace agreement due to the non-withdrawal of non-ENDF armed groups from the territory of Tigray. AS

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