This weekend’s scheduled African Union-sponsored peace talks to end Ethiopia’s two-year Tigray conflict won’t happen, diplomatic sources told The Associated Press on Friday.
The federal government of Ethiopia announced on Wednesday that it had accepted an invitation to travel to South Africa for the peace negotiations from the head of the African Union Commission.
The Tigrayan authorities declared that they were prepared to send negotiators but asked for clarification on the format of the negotiations because they had previously insisted on the presence of foreign observers.
In order to travel safely, the Tigrayan authorities also requested security guarantees. The diplomatic sources claimed that logistical problems were partially to blame for the delay but insisted on anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak about the situation in public.
They claimed that there had been no agreement on the meeting’s structure. No new time has been allocated.
Olusegun Obasanjo, the AU’s special envoy, is expected to lead the negotiations with the assistance of former South African vice president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Kenyan former president Uhuru Kenyatta.
After a fighting lull lasting since March that allowed thousands of truckloads of aid to enter the Tigray region, where more than 5 million people require humanitarian aid, the conflict between the Tigray forces and Ethiopia’s federal government resumed in late August. Deliveries of aid have now ceased.
According to eyewitnesses and recent satellite imagery, forces from the neighboring Eritrea are once again heavily involved in the fighting on the side of Ethiopian forces.
Tens of thousands of people are thought to have died since the conflict began in November 2020, uprooting millions of people from their homes in northern Ethiopia, including the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar.
The AP reported this week that babies in Tigray are dying in their first month of life at a rate that is four times higher than it was before the war cut off access to the majority of medical care for over 5 million people.
Five times as many women are passing away during pregnancy or within 42 days of giving birth as there were prior to the war.