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Can a “Humanitarian Truce” Help End Ethiopia’s Civil War?

April 3, 2022

Crisis Group’s analysis
Richard Atwood Executive Vice President

Richard Atwood and Naz Modirzadeh are joined by Crisis Group expert William Davison to discuss the Ethiopian federal government’s offer of a humanitarian truce in its seventeen-month war against forces from Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region.

After almost seventeen months of devastating civil war in Ethiopia, the federal government on 24 March announced what it called a humanitarian truce. The offer would ostensibly allow aid into Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, which has, in effect, been under a blockade for months and where millions face what the UN describes as a serious lack of food. The government’s unilateral truce declaration comes after its offensive in late 2021 pushed back Tigrayan forces, who had advanced to within striking distance of the capital Addis Ababa – the latest about-face in a war that has seen the balance of force between federal troops and Tigrayan rebels swing back and forth. It also comes alongside other signals that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed may have tempered his initial goal of crushing Tigray’s leadership.

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood, Naz Modirzadeh and William Davison, Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Ethiopia, discuss the causes and significance of the government’s proposal. They map out the military dynamics on the ground and the evolving calculations of Tigrayan leaders, Prime Minister Abiy, other Ethiopian protagonists in the conflict and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, whose forces were also fighting alongside the federal troops against the Tigrayans. They talk about the role of foreign powers in supporting President Abiy Ahmed and in pushing for peace and break down how regional relations are shaping the conflict. They ask how optimistic we should be that the truce eases Tigray’s humanitarian disaster or even serves as a foundation for peace talks and how such talks might surmount the thorniest obstacles – notably resolving a territorial dispute in Western Tigray – to a political settlement.




  1. Let’s hope and pray that the humanitarian truce will help open the door for a peaceful solution ending this senseless destructive conflict. Yes it can if everyone takes a deep breath and say enough is enough. At the end of the day brothers and sisters are killing brothers and sisters, not Baratieri’s or Mussolini’s incarnates. Someday current leaders or their successors would look back at this bloody conflict and feel agonizingly ashamed by it. It is nothing in it to be proud of it but rather disgusted by it. It is a shame now and will remain a shameful chapter of the old country for all of us. It is not only the conflict that is shameful but the nature of repulsive atrocities committed in it. When is the last time a fellow countryman seen throwing a fellow countryman into a fire pit while still alive and pleading for his Allah created and blessed life? It was during Emperors Tedros and John when that happened. Raping mothers including elderly women in front of their crying children was unthinkable during our lifetime up until now except Mengistu’s short reign. Both sides need to recollect themselves and wise up now. But you bigots here among us have proven to be unrepentant lost cause. You must be ashamed of yourself. You are afflicted with untreatable psychosis. What I can tell with all certainty is this. Sooner if not later you will be laid bare with lack of gullible audience. Once both sides of the conflict come to terms in the old country you will have nothing to blow your stinking dragon breath around.

  2. Make that: It was during Emperors Tedros and John reigns when similar barbarity last happened.

  3. The authoritarian cease fire will not lead to a durable peace as long as the TPLF controls and rules Tigray. The de-fascistization of Tigray (ridding Tigray of fascism) is the only viable and effective political measure for enduring peace and stability in Ethiopia and the region.

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