…More than 4,000 prisoners of war in Tigray to get freedom

Tayo AFOLABI

 

Former 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.

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.

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.

 

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