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Ethiopia-Eritrea border reopens after 20 years

Ethiopians and Eritreans have been celebrating the reopening of two key crossing points more than 20 years after a border war shut them.

Hundreds of people from the two countries hugged each other and some wept as their leaders led celebrations to mark the reopening.

Ethiopia also announced that its troops would start withdrawing from the border area.

These are the latest moves in the rapprochement between the ex-enemies.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki signed a peace deal in July, restoring diplomatic and trade relations between the nations.

The reopening at Burre gives landlocked Ethiopia access to the sea. Another border post, near the Ethiopian town of Zalambessa, also reopened.
It coincided with the Ethiopian New Year, adding to the festive atmosphere.

“It’s a wonderful day. I cam here to meet my relatives who I haven’t seen for 20 years. We are so happy,” Ethiopian Emmanuel Haile told BBC Tigrinya’s Girmay Gebru in Zalambessa.

“I have met my mother and my siblings after 24 years,” another woman said. “I am so happy. I can’t express my joy.”
The war, fought over the exact location of the boundary between Ethiopia and Eritrea, began in May 1998 and left tens of thousands of people dead.

It ended in 2000 with the signing of the Algiers agreement. But peace was never fully restored as Ethiopia refused to implement a ruling by a border commission established by the agreement.

What is the significance of the reopening?
Families divided by the conflict are now able to visit each other after more than two decades

Eritrea won independence from Ethiopia in 1991 but members of the same family continued to live on both sides of the border as the two countries enjoyed good relations until 1998.

The crossing at Zalambessa is on the main trade route linking the capital of Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region with Eritrea’s capital, Asmara.

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