After more than 14 months of fighting, the United Nations secretary-general said Wednesday that he was relieved to learn that “there is now a visible attempt to achieve peace” in Ethiopia, but he provided no further specifics.
Antonio Guterres made the comment on Wednesday following a phone discussion with African Union ambassador Olusegun Obasanjo, who had just returned from a visit to Addis Abeba, the capital of Ethiopia’s troubled Tigray region.
Obasanjo “expressed hope that there is now a real prospect for political and diplomatic settlement of the issue,” according to Guterres. His message did not mention Ethiopia’s government or opposition Tigray troops, and Obasanjo’s spokesperson did not reply quickly to queries.
Ambassador David Satterfield, the United States’ new envoy to the Horn of Africa, is scheduled to meet with Ethiopian authorities on Thursday.
Tens of thousands of people have been murdered and millions have been displaced as a result of Ethiopia’s war. According to the US, 900,000 people in Tigray, which has been under an Ethiopian government embargo since late June, are facing hunger.
According to the World Health Organization, medical supplies have not been permitted into the region of around 6 million people.
Despite his optimism, the UN Secretary-General cautioned that “ongoing military operations in some regions of Ethiopia continue to pose a threat to the peace process and sour the confidence-building measures that we hope are being implemented by all parties in the conflict.”
Soldiers from neighboring Eritrea are aligned with Ethiopian forces and have been implicated by witnesses for some of the greatest crimes in the war, as are militants from Ethiopia’s Amhara region, who presently dominate western Tigray.
Guterres urged all parties to “move expeditiously toward cessation of hostilities,” and he expressed optimism about the African Union-led mediation efforts.
After a drone-assisted military attack halted their advance to Ethiopia’s capital, Tigray fighters withdrew into their area last month. Ethiopian military stated that they would not pursue them further into the region, which some in the international community saw as an opportunity for mediation attempts.
However, multiple drone strikes in Tigray have killed dozens of people in recent weeks, and Ethiopia’s government has refused to answer inquiries from The Associated Press about them.