Reports that senior religious figures have arrived in the Tigrayan capital for a three day visit has been made much of by pro-government Ethiopian websites.
“A delegation from the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia has travelled to Tigray regional state to discuss with and provide humanitarian assistance to those in need.
The delegation, composed of religious leaders, elders and members of the council, will make a three day visit and meet with members of the community and stakeholders.
The delegation will hold discussions on the challenges faced during the law enforcement operation held in Tigray regional state, particularly damage caused to churches.
Moreover, the delegation will meet with heads of churches and elders as well as regional government officials and security forces.”
But Tigrayan sources have a rather different take on the events.
“Abiy’s delegates arrived in Mekelle and sent invitations today to religious leaders and elders in Togray to participate in the meeting but they have refused to attend. The Patriarch Abune Mathias is reported not to have made the trip to Mekelle.
All shops, hotels and transport are closed to show their opposition.
Some youth are also burning tyres on roadways.
There are also sounds of gunshots around Kebele 17 and 18 (southern part of the city) probably to disperse the youth.”
It is hard to see what the religious delegation will achieve, no matter how well-meaning they are, since Mekelle is in the middle of a war zone.
As leaked recordings from the interim Tigray government admitted, they current administration has very limited authority outside of Mekelle.
Will this delegation be in a position to halt the destruction of religious sites and the looting of churches and mosques – often by Eritrean troops?
The next few weeks will show the value of this visit.