Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed announced on Friday that the Eritrean government has agreed to withdraw its forces from Tigray following almost five months of mass atrocities against civilians in the restive region.
“In our March 26, 2021 discussions with President Isaias Afwerki during my visit to Asmara, the government of Eritrea has agreed to withdraw its forces out of the Ethiopian border,” Abiy said in a statement posted to his Twitter account the day after arriving in Eritrea’s capital, Asmara, to meet President Isaias Afwerki.
This statement comes only a few days after he, for the first time, acknowledged that atrocities have been committed by Eritrean troops in Tigray. It took intense pressure from the United States and others to address the deadly crisis in Tigray, where witnesses have described Eritrean soldiers looting, killing and raping before Abiy came out publicly to declare his position after previous denials.
“The Ethiopian National Defense force will take over guarding the border areas effective immediately,” Abiy added.
Abiy also noted that the move is aimed at restoring “trust-based people to people relations among our citizens in the Tigray region and fellow Eritreans across the border is essential”.
Thousands of people have been killed in fighting between Ethiopian government troops and the Tigray region’s former ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), that began in November, reports had revealed.
Although the Ethiopian government claimed victory in Tigray in late November after Ethiopian troops took the regional capital Mekelle, the TPLF leaders remained on the run and fighting continued.
Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch said that Eritrean forces shot dead hundreds of children and civilians in the November mass killing.