The Ethiopian Government Communication Service, in a statement issued Tuesday, disclosed that the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) have taken control of the towns of Shire, Alamata, and Korem, pushing back the rebel Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
"The government of Ethiopia is carrying out the necessary preparations and will coordinate with the relevant humanitarian agencies to provide humanitarian aid through these areas that have come under the control of the ENDF, including via the Shire Airport," the statement read.
Noting that the maximum care ENDF has taken thus far has succeeded in protecting civilians from harm, the statement indicated that government forces have "averted the grim scenario some have predicted by echoing TPLF’s propaganda."
The Ethiopian government said in coordination with humanitarian operators, it is making preparations to expand the routes through which humanitarian assistance could be transported. It said concerted efforts are underway to open the North Gondar route to Shire as well as the Kombolcha-Dessie-Woldiya-Kobo-Alamata route. The ongoing preparations will also include technical assessments and some of the groundwork needed to restore services to the conflict-affected areas.
The latest announcement came a day after the Ethiopian government vowed to take control of major public facilities in the conflict-hit Tigray region. It said the measures are necessitated not only by the repeated attacks of the TPLF but also by its active collusion with hostile foreign powers.
"It is thus imperative that the government of Ethiopia assumes immediate control of all airports, other federal facilities, and installations in the region," the Ethiopian Government Communication Service said in a statement Monday.
Meanwhile, it reiterated that government forces will endeavor to avoid combat operations within urban areas to prevent civilian casualties, and strict instructions have been given to all combat units to reinforce this commitment.
Humanitarian aid had been heading to the Tigray region after the Ethiopian government and the rebel forces in late March agreed to a conditional cessation of hostilities and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid into the region.
Conflict resumed in August as the Ethiopian government accused the TPLF of resuming fighting. The situation eventually halted humanitarian aid flowing into parts of Northern Ethiopia.
Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous nation, has seen a devastating conflict between government-allied troops and forces loyal to the TPLF since November 2020, which has left millions in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.