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Banks re-open in Ethiopia’s Mekelle for first time since war began…

FILE PHOTO: A view shows a street in Mekelle, Tigray region of northern Ethiopia December 10, 2018. REUTERS/Maggie Fick

Reuters . Mon, December 28, 2020, 5:12 PM GMT+1
NAIROBI (Reuters) – Banking services have resumed in the capital of Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region for the first time since conflict broke out there on Nov. 4, state-run Fana TV reported on Monday, as the government seeks to restore normality a month after capturing the city.

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

By mid-December, it was sending civil servants back to work and re-opening air space, while some power and telecoms links were restored after a near-total communications blackout.

Fana cited an interview in the state-run Ethiopia Press Agency with Mekelle’s mayor, Ataklti Haile Selassie, in which he was quoted as saying banks had opened their doors.

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

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

On Tuesday, the U.N.’s World Food Programme announced it had been able to distribute food at two of the four camps for Eritrean refugees. Refugees had last received two months of rations in mid October.

Abiy’s government says the conflict is finished. 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 back from mountain hideouts to which they fled after the fall of Mekelle but there have not been reports of fighting since earlier this month.

(Writing by Tim Cocks. Editing by Mark Potter)

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