Eritrea Agrees to Withdraw Forces From Ethiopian Border Area

Eritrea agreed to withdraw its troops from Ethiopia, after facing allegations that they committed atrocities in the neighboring country and increasing diplomatic pressure to pull out.

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki decided on the removal following talks he hosted Thursday with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The announcement came three days after Abiy admitted for the first time the presence of Eritrean forces in his country.

“The government of Eritrea has agreed to withdraw its forces out of the Ethiopian border,” Abiy said in a statement on Friday. “The Ethiopian National Defense Force will take over guarding the border areas effective immediately.”

The withdrawal will help de-escalate a conflict that’s been raging in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region since November, when Abiy ordered federal troops to topple the state’s dissident ruling party. Forces loyal to Tigray’s government fired missiles at Eritrea’s capital, Asmara, in the early stages of the war.

Both the European Union and the U.S. called on Eritrean troops to leave Tigray after reports of looting, sexual violence, assaults in refugee camps and other human-rights abuses. Last month, advocacy group Amnesty International reported that Eritrean troops massacred hundreds of civilians in the northern Ethiopian town of Axum in November.

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