The African Union (AU) on Sunday called for an immediate ceasefire in Tigray, where violence is escalating, with rebels in the northern Ethiopian region saying they were “ready to respect it.
The town of Shire, in northwestern Tigray, has been bombed for several days in a joint offensive by Ethiopian and Eritrean troops against Tigrayan rebels that has resulted in several civilian casualties.
A member of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), an NGO providing disaster relief, was killed and another wounded in one of these attacks on Friday, which left two other civilians dead, according to the IRC.
After UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern about the escalating violence, AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat called for “an immediate and unconditional cease-fire.”
“The chairperson urges the parties to reiterate their commitment to dialogue in accordance with their agreement for direct talks to be convened in South Africa,” he added in a statement.
In response, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebels said they were “ready to respect” such a pause in the fighting.
“We are ready to respect an immediate cessation of hostilities. We also call on the international community to force the Eritrean army to withdraw from Tigray, to take steps towards an immediate cessation of hostilities and to put pressure on the Ethiopian government to come to the negotiating table,” said the TPLF.
– Negotiations postponed –
Shortly before, the U.S. Department of State’s Africa desk had said on Twitter that “the priority” was to “achieve an immediate cessation of hostilities.