Ethiopia: Tigrayan forces announce withdrawal to their departure zone for humanitarian reasons

Ethiopian rebels from Tigray, who had advanced in recent months into the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar, are retreating to their region in order to “open the door” to humanitarian aid, their spokesman announced.
This announcement opens a new phase in the deadly conflict that has pitted pro-government forces against Tigrayan rebels for more than a year and triggered a deep humanitarian crisis.
“We have decided to withdraw from these areas to Tigray. We want to open the door for humanitarian aid,” said Getachew Reda, spokesman for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
Until now, the TPLF has described a withdrawal from these two regions, demanded by the government as a precondition for negotiations, as “absolutely not feasible.
For their part, the rebels demanded that the federal authorities end the humanitarian “siege” of Tigray.
“We are conducting phase-by-phase withdrawals. We started withdrawing our forces a few weeks ago. We are now announcing it,” Getachew said on Monday, saying that the rebels had “left” Lalibela.
The town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its 12th and 13th century rock-hewn churches, has changed hands several times, as have other localities.