The transitional Government of Tigray has committed to releasing no fewer than 4,000 prisoners of war after the diplomatic intervention of former Nigeran President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The move which marks a diplomatic victory in the Ethiopian civil war will see the release of prisoners drawn from the armies of the Ethiopian authorities, the Amhara region and Eritrea.
A statement released by Tigray’s external affairs office said the prisoners release, secured by Obasanjo who is African Union Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa, is a “confidence-building exercise” and part of honouring the “mini truce” that has been in place for more than a month.
It went on to note that of the more than 4,000 prisoners, 401 are women.
“Accordingly, per the promise we made to Chief Obasanjo, we have decided to release 4,208 prisoners of war. Of those to be released, 401 are women,” the office said.
It however noted that war criminals among the captured will be made to face the long arm of the law.
“Enemy fighters suspected of having committed atrocities will be held accountable,” the office added.
Most of those who were captured were taken from areas outside Tigray. As such, there are little to zero chance the prisoners had any role in human rights violations.
Tigray’s external affairs office accused its rivals of sending pregnant women to fight in the war and some have given birth as prisoners.
“Since there were numerous pregnant prisoners of the war – the regime had cruelly deployed pregnant fighters to the frontlines – we have prioritised the release of those that have given birth during their stay in Tigray,” the office added.
It also called on Ethiopian authorities to release Tigrayan prisoners of war from custody.
Meanwhile Ethiopia is making good of the immediate, unilateral truce it declared at the end of March by delivering and transporting food aid into the war-torn region.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that the biggest food consignment entered the region last week.
“…319 trucks of humanitarian cargo entered Tigray during the reporting week, the highest number of trucks entering the region in a single week since June 2021,” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.
From 1 April and 16 May, around 15 500 metric tons (MT) of food were brought into Tigray.
However, at least 68 000 MT are still required to complete the current food distribution cycle.
The Meher planting season of the staple crop started this month and there’s a delay in the provision of seed and fertiliser.
OCHA has called for immediate delivery to farmers.
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