Diplomats from the EU and US have urged the government of Ethiopia to restore telecommunications and banking services to war-torn Tigray.
Since 2020, war between Ethiopia’s Federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has disrupted telecommunications and banking services.
Annette Weber of the EU and Mike Hammer of the US, representing a special envoy to the Horn of Africa en route to Tigray’s capital Mekelle, said there should be a swift restoration of these services in the region.
According to the diplomats, Tigray’s regional president has assured the safety of workers recruited to restore telecommunications and banking services.
A statement from the envoy reads: “The envoys agree that a swift restoration of electricity, telecom, banking and other basic services in Tigray is essential for people of Tigray as recognised in earlier discussions with the Ethiopian government. With this security assurance, there should be no obstacle for the restoration of services to begin.”
The Ethiopian government has yet to comment on the matter.
In June this year, the country’s government established a committee to meet with the TPLF to negotiate peace.
A recent report by non-governmental organisation Omna Tigray said not having telecommunications and internet has been catastrophic.
According to the report, the country’s administration under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has a history of imposing internet and telecommunications blackouts.
The report said, “The first telecommunications and internet blackout under Ahmed administration was in August 2018 when fixed line and mobile internet services were shutdown in east Somali region following violent confrontations between local communities and Federal troops. The internet was also shut down for three days in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa in September 2018 when ethnic violent cost the lives of more than 50 people. Among others was a 10 day national wide internet shut down in June 2019 after the assassination of government and military official in Amhara region and over a month of internet shut down in June 2020.”