Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres praised Ethiopia's Tigray cease-fire during his first visit to the country since the war broke out two years ago. He said the U.N. is upscaling aid to meet "dramatic humanitarian needs."
Speaking alongside African Union Commissioner Moussa Faki Mahamat, on Thursday, Guterres called on the international community to support Ethiopia following the signing of the cease-fire with Tigray last month.
Ethiopia's Ministry of Finance says it will cost $20 billion to rebuild damage done to infrastructure during the two-year conflict. But donors, including the United States and the European Union, are yet to resume support that was cut out of concern for human rights abuses.
"We appeal to the international community to support Ethiopia in its development," Guterres said. "There is not a better way to consolidate peace than developing the country, creating the conditions for the people to see the peace dividends, people to see how peace contributes to improvement of the living conditions of the citizens of the country. And we will be in the first line of advocating for international support for the development of Ethiopia in this crucial moment of the history of the country."
While in Addis Ababa, Guterres held a joint meeting with the AU's Faki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Guterres said the conflict in Ethiopia had resulted in "more causalities" than the war in Ukraine and that implementation of the cease-fire was vital.
"This is an opportunity that Ethiopia cannot miss, that Africa cannot miss, and that the world cannot miss. There were more casualties in the conflict in Ethiopia than in the conflict in Ukraine," Guterres said. "People sometimes forget that this has been a dramatic conflict. And what was achieved thanks to the mediation of the African Union is remarkable. And it is the obligation of everybody, everywhere in the world to do everything possible to support the African Union and to support the parties, to make sure that we reach a final peace settlement."
Under the terms of an implementation accord, the AU was due to deploy a monitoring team to Tigray by November 22. But diplomatic sources told VOA the team is yet to reach the northern region.
The Tigray rebels have agreed to disarm their fighting force alongside the withdrawal of Eritrean and other nonfederal forces from Tigray, but diplomats say Eritrean troops are still present. Aid has started to reach the region, where 5.4 million people need humanitarian support.
Disarmament was due to be completed within 30 days of the cease-fire that was agreed on November 2.
Ethiopia's government said Thursday that a committee tasked with organizing the disarming of Tigray's fighters had convened in the city of Shire, adding that the committee's work had been "delayed due to technical factors."