Olusegun Obasanjo secures release of more than 4 000 prisoners of war in Tigray

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  • As part of confidence-building in Ethipoia's mini truce, Tigray will release 4 208 prisoners of war.
  • Prisoners implicated in war crimes will face the full wrath of the law.
  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says 319 trucks of humanitarian cargo reached Tigray last week - a record since the start of the mini truce.

Former Nigeran president Olusegun Obasanjo has secured a diplomatic victory in the Ethiopian civil war, with the transitional government of Tigray committing to release more than 4 000 prisoners of war.

The prisoners were drawn from armies of the Ethiopian authorities, the Amhara region and Eritrea, and their release is a "confidence-building exercise" which is part of honouring the "mini truce" that has been in place for more than a month.

Tigray's external affairs office said in a statement said it would be done with the assistance of the African Union Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa, led by Obasanjo, who has been "trying to help us secure a peaceful way out of the war in Tigray".

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.

War crimes

While the momentous resolution has been made, if there are war criminals among the captured, they will 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.

Mini truce

At the end of March, Ethiopia's government declared an immediate, unilateral truce and ordered that food aid be transported into the war-torn region.

Last week, the biggest consignment since the truce entered the region.

"...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.  


The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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