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Six women, child kidnapped on Sudan-Ethiopia border

October 15 - 2020 EL GEDAREF
Ethiopian 'shifta' gunmen (File photo: Social media)
Ethiopian 'shifta' gunmen (File photo: Social media)

Six Sudanese women and a child were kidnapped by Ethiopian gunmen in El Gedaref on Tuesday. Their captors are demanding a ransom of half a million Sudanese Pounds from their families for their release.

The El Fashaga Lands Committee said in a statement that the kidnaping occurred in the agricultural lands adjacent to El Leya village in El Gureisha locality, while the women were tilling their farms on the eastern bank of the Atbara River.

The kidnappers have contacted the families of the victims to demand a ransom of 10,000 Ethiopian Birr, the equivalent of SDG500,000*.

The committee attributed the repeated crimes of kidnapping, murder, and theft to the government’s failure to dealing with the issue of disputed lands.

As reported by Radio Dabanga yesterday, the Lands Committee complains that Ethiopian gunmen are again wreaking havoc at the El Gedaref-Ethiopian border.

Last week, a group of gunmen from Ethiopia (called shifta in the region) prevented farmers from the villages of Jemeiza and Um Disa in East El Galabat from harvesting their sesame crops.

Disputed lands

El Gedaref Governor Suleiman Ali had a meeting with the Ethiopian consul in El Gedaref on Sunday. They discussed the security situation and its impact on trade, cross-border crimes, arms smuggling, human trafficking, and border control.

Two months ago, Ethiopian gunmen allegedly stole 9,000 cows, sheep and camels, committed murders and were involved in kidnapping in El Fashaga locality.

In May, Ethiopian gunmen, supported by the Ethiopian army, killed a Sudanese army captain. Fighting between Ethiopian and Sudanese army soldiers in El Fashaga border area in June displaced at least 5,000 people.

The 1,600 kilometres border between Sudan and Ethiopia was drawn in colonial times. It has never been clearly demarcated since Sudan became independent. The lack of clear border markers has made it easy for Ethiopian militants to occupy fertile farmlands in eastern El Gedaref.

In particular in El Fashaga locality, Ethiopian farmers have been cultivating crops for decades. The lands are protected by Ethiopian gunmen. Farmers in El Fashaga and the El Gedaref governor have demanded that these lands be returned.

Following Tuesday’s kidnapping, the Lands Committee renewed its appeal to the sovereign, executive, military, and civilian authorities to take the necessary steps to end the suffering of farmers in the area

* As effective foreign exchange rates can vary in Sudan, Radio Dabanga bases all SDG currency conversions on the daily middle US Dollar rate quoted by the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS). USD 1 = SDG 55 at the time of posting. On the parallel market in Khartoum, the greenback sold for around SDG250 in early October.

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