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UNITED NATIONS, Dec 08 (APP): United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for quick restoration of the rule of law and respect for human rights in Ethiopia’s restive Tigray region as well as reconciliation efforts and unimpeded humanitarian access.

In a statement released by his Spokesperson Monday evening , the UN chief Antonio Guterres said it was essential for the rule of law to be restored, “in full respect for human rights, (to) promote social cohesion, an inclusive reconciliation, as well as to re-establish the delivery of public services and guarantee unfettered humanitarian access.”

An Ethiopian government offensive began after those loyal to the ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) forces reportedly attacked a federal military base on November 4. With communications and transportation links cut, government forces have reportedly taken control of the regional capital Mekelle, although the TPLF claims that it is now mounting an insurgency, according to news reports.

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Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed described TPLF leaders as a “criminal clique” on Monday, denying that their local forces were capable of a protracted insurgency
Last Friday, UN aid coordinators with the humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, said they were “working at full speed” to secure full aid access to Tigray, after a deal was struck to help tens of thousands of civilians displaced by the weeks of fighting between federal and regional forces.

More than 47,000 Ethiopian refugees have fled across the border into Sudan, and around 96,000 Eritrean refugees being hosted in camps in Tigray, were reported by the World Food Programme (WFP) to have essentially run out of food.

In all around two million are in need of assistance in and around Tigray, with a million displaced due to the fighting, the UN estimates.

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In the statement, the Guterres said that the UN remained fully committed to supporting an African Union (AU)-led initiative effort to seek a lasting and peaceful resolution to the conflict between federal and local forces over Tigray.

“We also remain fully committed to mobilizing the full capacity of the United Nations to provide humanitarian support to refugees, displaced people and all populations in distress”, he added.

“The Secretary-General has also been conveying these messages in the numerous conversations he has had with United Nations representatives on the ground and regional leaders, as well as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia with whom he spoke today,” the statement said.