Ethiopians who fled Tigray gather near the Sudan-Ethiopia border Ethiopians who fled Tigray gather near the Sudan-Ethiopia border 

Ethiopia: State of emergency to end early

Ethiopia's parliament on Tuesday votes for an early end to a six-month state of emergency declared in November

By Vatican News staff reporter

A six-month state of emergency was declared when rebellious Tigrayan forces had threatened to march on the capital Addis Ababa.

Parliament's decision to lift the decree early comes in light of improving security conditions in the country.

After gaining ground in November, most of the rebellious forces have since retreated back to their region, Tigray, and there are signs of a tentative improvement in relations between the warring sides.

The state of emergency gave the government power to detain citizens without charge and search homes without a warrant.

The internal conflict has been ongoing since 2020 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a military offensive in the northern Tigray region after accusing the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) of attacking a federal army base outside Tigray's regional capital Mekelle.

Since then, thousands have been killed and millions of people have been displaced from their homes.

Pope’s concern

During an address to diplomats at the beginning of the year, Pope Francis voiced his concern for the internal conflict in Ethiopia, where he said, “there is need to find once again the path of reconciliation and peace through a forthright encounter that places the needs of the people above all else.” 

Vital supplies

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation said it has been granted access to send medical supplies to Ethiopia's embattled Tigray region for the first time in six months.

In a tweet late on Monday, the agency’s Ethiopian Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, wrote that the aid shipment that has been allowed in amounted to a "small portion" of what is needed, and said his agency “calls again for unfettered access to provide humanitarian aid.”

The supplies include essential medical equipment, personal protective equipment, antibiotics, medicines for malaria and diabetes, and treatment for severe acute malnutrition.

In June 2021, Ethiopia’s government cut off almost all access to food aid, medical supplies, cash and fuel in Tigray.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said in a statement last month that three-quarters of Tigray’s population of 6 million are “using extreme coping strategies to survive” and more than a third “are suffering an extreme lack of food.”

15 February 2022, 13:27