Ethiopia: Mekelle’s banks reopen for first time since Tigray war

Banking services were resumed in the capital of northern Ethiopia's Tigray region for the first time since the conflict broke out there on November 4, state-owned Fana TV reported Monday.

Banking services resumed in the capital of northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region for the first time since the conflict broke out there on Nov. 4, state-owned Fana TV reported Monday, as the government seeks to restore normalcy a month after taking the city.

The government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed declared victory after seizing Mekelle from the rebellious Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) from the north on November 28.

By mid-December, it was dispatching officials to work and reopening airspace, while some power and telecommunications links were re-established after a near-total blackout in communications.

Fana cited an interview in Ethiopia’s state press agency with the mayor of Mekelle, Ataklti Haile Selassie, in which he was quoted as saying that the banks had opened their doors.

The conflict between the Ethiopian federal forces and the TPLF is believed to have killed thousands and displaced approximately 950,000 people. Earlier this month, residents reported food, water and fuel shortages in the city.

Aid agencies have struggled to gain access to the region to assess the extent of the emergency, but are concerned that food is running out, especially in camps hosting refugees fleeing repression in neighboring Eritrea.

On Tuesday, the UN World Food Program announced that it had been able to distribute food in two of the four Eritrean refugee camps. The refugees had last received rations for two months in mid-October.

The Abiy government says the conflict is over. Ethiopia has a general election scheduled for June and is drafting a bill to establish an Ethiopian stock market.

TPLF leaders have previously said they were fighting from hiding places in the mountains they fled to after the fall of Mekelle, but there have been no reports of clashes since earlier this month.

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