The leaders of the African nations of Ethiopia and Eritrea on Tuesday officially reopened the border, which had remained closed during the two decades of a war between the countries. The two countries had a historic summit in Eritrea’s Capital Asmara in July.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki visited the Debay Sima-Bure border post along with members of their militaries to mark the Ethiopian new year. They also reopened the Serha-Zalambesa border post. Eritrean Minister of Information Yemane G Meskel said the move would boost road transport connectivity between the two countries.
Ahmed’s chief of staff Fitsum Arega posted photographs of Ahmed walking alongside Afwerki while hundreds of civilians lined alongside a road with the countries’ flags in hand.
Eritrea won independence from Ethiopia in 1991 after a lengthy conflict but within seven years clashes broke out between the neighbours over remote border areas, including the town of Badme. Around 80,000 people were killed in the war. Abiy, who took office in April, has accepted a Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission ruling awarding disputed territory to Eritrea.
A high-level delegation from Asmara visited Addis Ababa in June for the first time since 1998, when the conflict erupted. The two countries did not have diplomatic relations although Asmara has a permanent delegation at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, the Capital of Ethiopia.
With rapprochement between the two countries, families divided by the conflict will be able to go and visit each other, BBC reported. Yonas Fesseha, a resident of Zalambessa, told the BBC’s Tigrinya service that his mother and brother are set to meet for the first time in 20 years.