Ethiopia’s largest bank resumes financial operations in Tigray

Ethiopia’s largest bank resumes financial operations in Tigray

Ethiopia’s largest bank, the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, announced on Monday that it had resumed financial operations in some towns in the troubled Tigray region, after a shutdown of more than a year.

“Following the recent peace agreement, the branches we have in the cities of Shire, Alamata and Korem have started to receive money sent from abroad and locally. And they have also received money. ‘money on deposit,’ the bank said in a statement.

The bank assured “to continue its efforts to expand (its) services and, gradually, to resume operations in all branches”.

Government and rebels signed an agreement on November 2 in Pretoria providing in particular for a cessation of hostilities, the withdrawal and disarmament of Tigrayan forces, the restoration of federal authority in Tigray and the reopening of access to this region plunged into a humanitarian situation. catastrophic.

On December 7, the Tigrayan authorities confirmed that Mekele, capital of the Tigray region, had been reconnected to the national electricity grid, after more than a year of interruption due to the war in this region of northern Ethiopia.

The northernmost region of Ethiopia, home to six million inhabitants, Tigray has lived almost cut off from the world since the start of a conflict between the federal government led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the regional authorities from the Liberation Front of people of Tigray (TPLF).

It had been deprived for more than a year of many basic services (electricity, telecommunications, banks, fuel, etc.).

The fighting began in November 2020, when Abiy Ahmed sent the federal army to arrest leaders in the region who had challenged his authority for months and whom he accused of attacking federal military bases.

During a question-and-answer session with MPs on November 15, the Prime Minister said that the authorities had started to restore telecommunications and electricity in certain areas affected by the conflict.

The provisions of the agreement – in which the restoration of electricity and telecommunications does not explicitly appear – are gradually coming into force.

– Prohibited to journalists –

Access to part of northern Ethiopia, including Tigray, is forbidden to journalists.

According to the UN, the two years of war have made more than 13.6 million people dependent on humanitarian aid in northern Ethiopia (5.4 million in Tigray, 7 million in Amhara and 1.2 million in Afar).

Militarily, the fighting has stopped. The rebels claimed to have “disengaged” 65% of their fighters from the front lines and “started to collect (their) heavy weapons and assemble them in one place”.

The rebels, however, are indignant at the persistent presence of the Eritrean army and security forces and militias from Ethiopia’s Amhara region, which have supported the federal army in the conflict.

The results of this conflict punctuated by abuses, which took place largely behind closed doors, are unknown. The International Crisis Group think tank and the NGO Amnesty International describe it as “one of the deadliest in the world”.

The war has also displaced more than two million Ethiopians and plunged hundreds of thousands into near-famine conditions, according to the UN.

On the humanitarian side, operations have been stepped up in northern Ethiopia since the Pretoria agreement, but the aid delivered remains far below what is needed.