Featured image via Fitsum Arega
The Ethiopian-Eritrean conflict, which erupted in 1998, has finally reached a diplomatic end. The war began as a border dispute, when former comrades Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea, argued over the Badme area. The frontier of this area had not been properly defined in the 1902 Ethiopian-Italian Treaty, which decided the boundaries of the two countries. The physical conflict lasted from 1998-2000, and resulted in about 100,000 deaths and over a million displaced. However, although there has not been further physical conflict since then, tensions have remained high.
Albeit 18 years after the end of the fighting, the two countries have now reached a diplomatic agreement. Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, was welcomed by the Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki in Asmara (the capital of Eritrea) on Sunday 8 July. After a two-day summit, the two leaders signed a joint declaration on Monday that signals the official end of the war.
The positive effects of long awaited peace for the citizens of these two countries are numerous. National conscription, has existed in Eritrea for the last 20 years, due to the possibility fo war resuming at any time. This resulted in Eritreans having to seek asylum in other countries. However, the end of the war removes that fear of being in the army indefinitely. Direct flights between the countries will resume, and the land border reopened. Families who have been divided by the conflict finally have a possibility of reunification. The phone lines have been opened, and agreements were made to reopen the embassies and the ports.
However, although things are looking up, the question that started the conflict remains unanswered. What will happen to the area of Badme? Without the resolution of this, it is hard to imagine a lasting peace.