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UN urges guarantees for civilians as Ethiopia gives Tigray forces 72-hour surrender ultimatum Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff & Agencies

UN urges guarantees for civilians as Ethiopia gives Tigray forces 72-hour surrender ultimatum

Ethiopian forces have threatened an assault on the regional capital of Mekelle [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 November, 2020

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The UN's humanitarian coordinator for Ethiopia has called for a guarantee of safety for aid workers and some 525,000 civilians in Mekelle.

The United Nations on Monday urged Ethiopia to ensure the protection of civilians, a day after Addis Ababa gave Tigray forces 72 hours to surrender.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed threatened a military offensive against the regional capital of Mekelle if the deadline is not met by the Tigray People's Liberation Front.

"Your journey of destruction is coming to an end, and we urge you to surrender peacefully within the next 72 hours, recognising you are at a point of no return," Abiy Ahmed said on Sunday in a statement aimed at the leaders of the TPLF.
 
"Take this last opportunity," he added.

Fighting between Ethiopian federal forces and the Tigray's regional army has killed hundreds, if not thousands of people since violence erupted on 4 November.

The conflict has sent more than 30,000 refugees into neighbouring Sudan.

Read also: Grim conditions await Ethiopian refugees in Sudan

Catherine Sozi, the UN's humanitarian coordinator for Ethiopia, told Reuters that she hoped for the guarantee of safety and security of aid workers and the "protection of more than 525,000 civilian (non-combatants) who live in Mekelle".

She also asked for the "protection of all civilian infrastructure like health facilities, schools and water system ... of civilian importance".

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