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Ethiopia Calls on All ‘Capable’ Citizens to Join Military Effort in Northern Tigray

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FILE - Youth joining the Ethiopian National Defense Force are escorted to Meskel Square in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, July 27, 2021.

The Ethiopian government appealed Tuesday for its citizens to join the military to fight the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) in the embattled northern Tigray region.

The appeal from Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's office follows the government’s unilateral declaration of a cease-fire in June as its military retreated from Tigray or abandoned the truce altogether.

“Now is the right time for all capable Ethiopians who are of age to join the Defense Forces, Special Forces and militias to show your patriotism," Abiy’s office said in a statement.

Representatives of Abiy, the TPLF and the Tigray emergency task force did not immediately comment.

The TPLF, which ruled Ethiopia for three decades, now controls Tigray. The TPLF-led authority administering the region says it is the Tigray Regional Government; Ethiopian federal authorities say that government was dissolved and that a Provisional Administration has the mandate in Tigray.

On Sunday, crowds rallied at Meskel Square in the capital city, Addis Ababa, to show their support for Ethiopia's National Defense Force and to condemn the TPLF. Men on horseback joined in the gathering, chanting and singing.

One of the speakers was the city's mayor, Adanech Abebe, who accused "international actors" of trying to restore power to the TPLF. She called upon the international community "to stand with over 100 million people of Ethiopia."

Fighting between the national government and the TPLF broke out in November, leaving about 4 million people in Tigray, Amhara and Afar facing emergency or crisis levels of food insecurity, according to the United Nations. Both sides have been accused of atrocities.

Troops from Eritrea, Ethiopia’s neighbor to the north, and Amhara, a neighboring region to the south of Tigray, also entered the conflict in support of the Ethiopian government.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said Tuesday that it and its partners regained access to the Mai Aini and Adi Harush camps for Eritrean refugees in Tigray. Violence had prevented representatives from accessing the sites since July 13.

The UNHCR said deliveries of aid for the camps’ 23,000 refugees resumed on August 5, despite access that is “limited by a complex and fluid security situation.”

VOA U.N. Correspondent Margaret Besheer and VOA's Horn of Africa service contributed to this report. Some information came from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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