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Beleaguered El Gedaref farmers fear impact of Ethiopian militiamen on Sudan border

October 29 - 2018 EL GALABAT
El Gedaref state in Sudan borders on Ethiopia (Map: wikipedia)
El Gedaref state in Sudan borders on Ethiopia (Map: wikipedia)

Farmers in East El Galabat locality in Sudan’s El Gedaref state have expressed concern about the impact of the security situation on the Sudan-Ethiopia border and the movements of Ethiopian members of the Shifta militia on the sesame harvest.

They reported the continued harvest processes in spite of the rising labour costs and scarcity and increased costs of transportation and burlap.

Farmers have called on the authorities to provide the necessary security and protection for farmers during the current harvest season.

Last week, members of the Ethiopian Shifta militia shot a farmer dead and wounded another in their agricultural project at El Mudiriya village in El Quresha locality, which led to panic and flight of workers from the project.

The border area has seen incidents of friction between Sudanese farmers and Ethiopian Shifta militiamen for several years.

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.

Radio Dabanga reported in November 2015 that more than 50 villages and a million acres of farmland in the eastern localities of El Gedaref state are occupied by Ethiopian militiamen.

Rising costs

Continuously rising costs and the scarcity of diesel, liquidity, and labour forces have placed much economic strain on the area’s farmers. Earlier in October, several farmers complained to Radio Dabanga from El Gedaref that it is extremely hard to find sufficient quantities of diesel to run the harvest machines and arrange transport for the labourers.

They also complained about the rising costs in general and the scarcity of labour. “Despite the suspension of the school classes and the bringing-in of large numbers of regular forces to help-out with harvesting, we’re still short of labour forces,” a plantation owner said.

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