EU and US officials call for restoration of banking and telecommunications services in Ethiopia’s Tigray | The mighty 790 KFGO

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By Giulia Paravicini

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – European Union and United States officials said on Tuesday that “there should be no obstacles” to restoring banking and telecommunications services in the remote northern Tigray region.

The war broke out in Tigray in November 2020 and spread to neighboring regions a year ago. The fighting died down in March after the two sides fought to a bloody stalemate and the government declared a humanitarian truce. Amid reports of widespread starvation, the government allowed some humanitarian aid in, but fuel to distribute it was severely restricted.

Services such as banking and telecommunications were cut in Tigray days after the army withdrew a year ago. They still need to be restored.

In June, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government formed a committee to negotiate with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the party that controls Tigray. The government wants talks “without preconditions”. Tigray called for restoring services to civilians first.

On Tuesday, diplomats Annette Weber of the European Union and Mike Hammer of the United States, both special envoys for the Horn of Africa, said they had traveled to the Tigrayan capital, Mekelle, to give a boost to the planned talks.

“The envoys agree that a rapid restoration of electricity, telecommunications, banking and other basic services in Tigray is essential for the people of Tigray, as recognized in previous discussions with the Ethiopian government. “, they said in a joint statement.

They said the Tigray regional president had assured that safety would be guaranteed for workers who were going to restore services.

“With this security assurance, there should be no impediments for service restoration to begin,” Weber and Hammer said.

Abiy spokesman Billene Seyoum and government spokesman Legesse Tulu did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

Redwan Hussien, Abiy’s national security adviser, said in late July that the federal government was ready for talks “anytime and anywhere”, and that they should begin without any preconditions.

The fighting, which also spread to neighboring Afar and Amhara regions last year, has displaced millions of people, plunged parts of Tigray into starvation conditions and killed thousands of civilians.

(Reporting by Giulia Paravicini in Addis Ababa; Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Katharine Houreld and Matthew Lewis)

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