A PEACE AGREEMENT between the Ethiopian Government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) signed on Wednesday in South Africa, represents “a critical first step” towards ending the brutal two year war, said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

In a statement issued by his Spokesperson, the Secretary-General said the Agreement for Lasting Peace through a Permanent Cessation of Hostilities brokered by the African Union and mediated by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, was a promising start to finally stopping the fighting which erupted in November 2020, and which has destroyed so many lives and livelihoods.

“The Secretary General urges all Ethiopians and the international community to support the bold step taken today by the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the Tigrayan leadership”, the statement said.

The African Union (AU) reportedly hailed the agreement as a “new dawn”, and welcomed the disarmament plan which both sides have officially signed up to after weeks of extensive negotiations.

The Secretary-General pledged his support to the parties in the implementation of the agreement and urged both sides “to continue with negotiations on the outstanding issues in a spirit of reconciliation in order to reach a lasting political settlement, silence the guns and put the country back on the path to peace and stability.”

He appealed to all stakeholders to seize the opportunity provided by the ceasefire, “to scale up humanitarian assistance to all civilians in need and to restore the desperately needed public services.”

Guterres commended the AU and its High-Level Panel for the facilitation of the peace talks and South Africa, for its key role hosting the peace talks. “The United Nations stands ready to assist the next steps of the African Union-led process and will continue to mobilize much-needed assistance to alleviate suffering in the affected areas”, the statement concluded.

Oxfam in Ethiopia’s Country Director Gezahegn Gebrehana said: “Oxfam welcomes today’s announcement from South Africa that the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the TPLF have agreed to a cessation of hostilities during African Union mediated peace talks.

“The humanitarian situation in Northern Ethiopia is critical with over 13 million people across Amhara, Afar and Tigray in urgent need of assistance. Since fighting resumed in August, an additional 574,000 people have been displaced and are in desperate need of food, clean water, shelter and other essentials. While humanitarian needs have spiked over the last two months, many life-saving activities have been suspended due to insecurity and humanitarian agencies’ inability to access sufficient cash, fuel, and supplies to sustain their operations. We believe and hope that both parties will follow up on their respective commitments by immediately facilitating unfettered humanitarian access for relief agencies to refresh their supplies and rapidly scale-up lifesaving aid.”

* Read the full statement from the Secretary-General here.

* Sources: Office of the UN Secretary-General and Oxfam International