The mediators are meeting as the ceasefire is slowly being implemented and, as aid workers say, the Eritrean troops are staying.

Mediators between the federal government of Ethiopia and authorities in the Tigray region, which was embroiled in a brutal war until last month, are stepping up efforts to force a ceasefire as relations between the two sides move closer to a come to normal.

The November 2 ceasefire came to rest a two-year conflict that killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions in the country of the Horn of Africa, but implementation of parts of the deal has been slower than hoped.

Humanitarian aid workers in Tigray say troops from neighboring Eritrea β€” which should have withdrawn under the terms of the ceasefire β€” are still present in several towns there, a region where millions are starving and in need of assistance.

The government of Eritrea has not commented.

The issue of the Eritrean Armed Forces and the restoration of services and humanitarian aid to Tigray was expected to be on the agenda of a monitoring team to be set up by the mediators.

The mediators had met in Mekelle, the capital of Tigray, Nuur Mohamud Sheekh, spokesman for the regional Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), said Thursday.

After more than a month of delays, a joint monitoring and verification team consisting of representatives from the government, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and IGAD has been appointed, the government’s national security adviser Redwan Hussien told Reuters.

Tigrayan leaders have complained of delays in assembling the monitoring team and implementing other provisions of the ceasefire.

Federal police said their agents had entered Mekelle and began operations to protect federal institutions such as banks, the airport and electricity and telecom infrastructures, in accordance with the terms of the ceasefire.

Getachew Reda, spokesman for the regional TPLF, did not respond to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, state-owned Ethiopian Airlines resumed flights on Wednesday to Mekelle, the first in 18 months. Ethio Telecom has reconnected its services to Mekelle and 27 other cities, while the government says humanitarian aid is being stepped up.

“We applaud the signing and launch of the African Union’s Monitoring, Verification and Compliance Mission (AU-MVCM) in Mekele, another major step towards lasting peace for the people of northern Ethiopia,” said the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a written statement issued on Thursday.

β€œThe United States stands ready to support the AU-MVCM and the full implementation of the cessation of hostilities (COHA), including disarmament of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) fighters, withdrawal of Eritrean troops, unimpeded humanitarian access, resumption of essential services and implementation of transitional justice,” said Blinken.



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