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Ethiopia

Diplomatic push for ceasefire as war enters 'dangerous new phase'

France's President Macron calls for talks as USAID chief Samantha Power lands in region for five-day visit

Both the Ethiopian federal government and the Tigrayan forces are hardening their positions as the conflict enters what the International Crisis Group describes as a 'dangerous new phase' with an upsurge of fighting and recruitment (AC Vol 62 No 15, Fighting escalates as federal ties fray).

The latest UN report on conditions in Tigray estimates that at least 100,000 children are facing 'life-threatening malnutrition' over the next year and that over 400,000 adults and children are already living in famine conditions.

Just how intractable the position has become was made clear in an interview given by General Tsadkan Gebretensae, Commander of the Tigray Defence Forces, to the BBC's Julian Marshall in which he spelt out Tigray's conditions for a ceasefire: unfettered access for humanitarian aid which he said was subject to a federal 'blockade', an end to attacks on Tigray civilians in Addis Ababa and the launching of negotiations on the future political structure of Ethiopia.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has shown no sign of acceding to any of those conditions. Instead, he has stepped up recruitment of young Ethiopians in the capital to join the federal forces.

After calls to Abiy in Addis and President Abdalla Hamdok in Khartoum on 31 July, France's President Emmanuel Macron has called for the opening of ceasefire talks and the ending of all restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian aid (AC Vol 62 No 14, No good options on the table).

Macron's message is likely to be echoed by Samantha Power, the head of the United States Agency for International Development, who is visiting Khartoum and Addis Ababa between 31 July and 5 August. She is due to meet Ethiopia's National Security Advisor and, according to US officials, hopes to meet Abiy.

Power has sharply criticised the UN's response to the Tigray war and the failure of the UN Security Council to convene a meeting on the crisis for eight months after the war started. The UN Security Council eventually met on Tigray in June to call for unimpeded humanitarian access, the withdrawal of Eritrean forces from Ethiopia and a scaling up of international support, none of which has happened so far.



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