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Ethiopia’s Tigray Conflict: Addis Abeba-Mekelle Flights Resuming

Families who had been separated for more than 18 months by the conflict sobbed and kissed the tarmac at the main airport in northern Tigray, Ethiopia.

The dramatic events happened after commercial flights between the regional capital Mekelle and the federal capital Addis Ababa were resumed.

During a violent two-year conflict that killed tens of thousands of people and uprooted millions more, the city, which has a population of about 500,000, was largely shut off from the rest of the world.

Last month, a peace agreement was eventually signed between the government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), clearing the way for the resumption of passenger flights.

Passengers kissing the tarmac at the airport in Mekelle were captured on camera by the TPLF-run Tigrai TV.

People arriving from Tigray caused dramatic scenes at Bole International Airport in Addis Abeba.

Some people had not spoken to their family in Tigray for more than 18 months due to the loss of telephone services, and they were awaiting news of their safety and continued residence with trepidation.

They included Kahssay Hailu, age 47, who had been stuck in Addis Abeba ever since she arrived there to be with her daughter and study for her examinations.

As she prepared to board her trip to Mekelle in Addis Abeba, Mrs. Kahssay told the Reuters news agency, “I lived here, apart from my husband and child whom I adore.

She continued, “When I received the news [that flights resumed], I dropped to the ground and cried.

Another woman, Nigsti Hailemariam, 67, claimed she had come to Addis Abeba in 2020 to assist her daughter in giving birth.

“I came here to see the birth of my daughter. I only intended to stay for two weeks until everything abruptly came to an end. More than a year and a half had passed. I’m thrilled to be back home and am overjoyed that peace has resumed, the woman told Reuters.

After a severe conflict between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the TPLF-run regional government, the war broke out.

Mr. Abiy said that Tigrayan forces had attacked military installations and were attempting to topple him.

In response, he sent soldiers to Tigray and ordered airstrikes to remove the TPLF from authority in the area.

Last month, the African Union (AU) mediated an agreement between the two parties to stop hostilities and restore essential services in Tigray.

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