Ethiopians to reunite as flights to Tigray resume

STORY: Kahssay Hailu and her family are on one of the first flights from Addis Ababa to Tigray's capital Mekelle in about 18 months.

A day after a delegation of government officials and heads of public enterprises visited Mekelle to discuss the implementation of last month's peace agreement.

“I lived here, separated from my husband and child, whom I love. I came here for my daughters’ examination and suddenly got stuck here. When I heard the news about the flights, I fell to the ground and cried. I am extremely happy, and I hope it will continue like this. I pray the peace will be sustained. When there is peace there is everything.”

The agreement, which included promises to restore services, ended two years of fighting between the Ethiopian federal government and its allies against the Tigrayan forces.

The conflict killed thousands and displaced millions.

A travel agent in Addis Ababa said the first Mekelle-bound flight was fully booked within hours of the announcement.

State media reported on Tuesday (December 27) that almost the entire region is now connected to the national grid and telecoms services have been restored in 27 towns there.

Ethiopian national security advisor Redwan Hussein said earlier on Twitter that the handing over of heavy weapons in Mekelle is expected to continue until Thursday (December 29).

He cited the Nairobi agreement on the implementation of the peace accord, which called for the handover of heavy weapons together with the withdrawal of foreign and non-federal forces, without naming specific foreign forces.

Eritrean troops, which have fought alongside Ethiopian federal forces, have been accused of looting towns, arresting and killing civilians after the signing of the peace agreement.

The Eritrean troops are not signatories.

A humanitarian aid worker in the Tigrayan town of Shire told Reuters he saw Eritrean soldiers there on Tuesday morning.

The Tigray People's Liberation Front or the TPLF called for their departure.