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1,000 flee Ethiopia for Sudan following clashes

September 2 - 2016 EL GALLABAT
El Gedaref state (OCHA)
El Gedaref state (OCHA)

About 1,000 Ethiopians reportedly crossed the border into Sudan’s El Gedaref state on Wednesday and Thursday, following violence in the Ethiopian city of El Metemma.

A witness from El Gallabat told Radio Dabanga that intense clashes in Ethiopia’s Amhara Province prompted many people to cross the border into Sudan.

“Government authorities have transferred the fleeing Ethiopians to Basunda city, where a delegation from the Office of the Commissioner of Refugees went to investigate the conditions of the Ethiopians fleeing war”.

Although demonstrations started among the Oromo, Ethiopia's biggest ethnic group, they later spread to the Amhara, the second most populous group. According to Human Rights Watch, more than 500 demonstrators are now estimated to have been killed by security forces in protests in Amhara and Oromia regions since November 2015. Demonstrators are protesting against alleged abuses and discrimination by the government.

Tensions

The border strip between Sudan and Ethiopia is often the scene of severe tension as a result of Ethiopian militia members who occupy agricultural lands in areas of Shangal and Gala El Luban in El Gedaref.

Farmers have told Radio Dabanga that disputes and tension have affected the living conditions and the stability in the region.

They downplayed the importance of the signed agreements between the Sudanese and Ethiopian authorities, and instead demanded the Sudanese government to secure their farms with the support of the army. The Popular Defence Forces are unable to provide security or stability in the region, the farmers added.

In July this year, Interior Minister Esmat Abdelrahman acknowledged the incursion of the Ethiopian 'Shifta' gangs into the western areas of El Gedaref. Over the past few years, the violence between armed farmers in El Gedaref's border areas rapidly increased, with many reports of Ethiopian gangs attacking Sudanese farmers in the border areas, extorting them, and occupying their lands.

At the end of last year, people in El Gedaref criticised the Sudanese government for failing to complete the demarcation of the border with Ethiopia, causing friction between Ethiopians and Sudanese over land issues.


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