Ethiopian-Eritrean Border
On Tuesday, June 5, 2018, Ethiopia announced that after 16 years of what the BBC has called a “no peace no war” stalemate between the nation and its neighbor Eritrea, Ethiopia will finally accept the Algiers Agreement — a treaty to bring peace to the Horn of Africa and the Ethiopian-Eritrean Border Dispute.

History of the Ethiopian-Eritrean Border Dispute

Ethiopia and Eritrea split into two nations after nearly 30 years of brutal civil war that resulted in Eritrea’s declaring independence from Ethiopia in 1993. Despite this conclusion, peace was short-lived. From 1998-2000, fighting resumed between the two nations over a border dispute centered around both nations’ claim to the town of Badme.

The dispute was rooted in the nations’ differing interpretation of colonial documents demarcating the line between Ethiopia and its subsidiary Eritrea. The Ethiopian-Eritrean 1998-2002 war became Africa’s bloodiest border war on record; in just two years, an estimated 80,000 people lost their lives.

The war culminated in the creation of the December 12, 2000 Algiers Agreement, which stated that both nations would cease fighting and accept the verdict offered by the newly created Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC).

In 2002, the EEBC ruled that the disputed towns along the Ethiopian-Eritrean border, Badme among others, belonged to Eritrea. Under its former, and now deceased, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia accepted the EEBC’s ruling only “in principle” which lead to the “no peace no war” stalemate that has characterized the Horn of Africa ever since.

Although the Algiers Agreement stated that the two nations would end all hostilities and accept the ruling of the EEBC, Ethiopia refused to pull its troops out of the border towns it still claimed ownership over. Occasional deadly clashes have continued to plague the Ethiopian-Eritrean border region ever since; the most recent occurred in June of 2016, when fighting at Badme resulted in several hundred deaths.

Ethiopia Accepts the Algiers Agreement

However, the hostile climate along Ethiopian-Eritrean border may have just changed. On Tuesday, June 5, 2018, Ethiopia, under its current Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, announced that it would officially accept the border decision of the 2000 Algiers Agreement and remove all Ethiopian troops from Badme and the other contested towns.

At his inauguration this past April, Ahmed vowed to improve relations between his nation and Eritrea, and his pledge to end all hostilities over the Ethiopian-Eritrean border dispute was an unexpectedly large step in this direction.

Looking Forward

Ending border hostilities could be a huge leap forward in ensuring peace and prosperity in the Horn of Africa. The Eritrean government has long justified its authoritarian and militaristic regime as necessary to protect Eritreans from the continued hostilities of its neighbor Ethiopia, but as Abraham T. Zere of Al Jazeera wrote, “Today, there is a real opportunity to reach a peaceful resolution of this long-standing conflict.”

With Ethiopia offering up the potential for peace, Eritrea has the chance to accept this olive branch and move forward to create a more peaceful and prosperous future for all.

– Abigail Dunn
Photo: Flickr

The Israeli government’s stance on African refugees has recently been called into question and has become an area of controversy centered on human rights.

The Israelis know perhaps better than any nation just how difficult it is for a people without a homeland. However, this is not reflected in the attitudes of many of those in power within the Israeli government. For example, former interior minister Eli Yishai voiced in a statement smacking of racism that the government should “put every single one of the infiltrators in detention facilities, take their work permits, put them on aeroplanes and send them packing to their countries or a third country.” In most cases, this is exactly what has happened.

Yishai is anything but alone. Several other high-profile politicians have been swayed by a wave of xenophobia imbued with hostility. Parliament member Miri Regev went so far as to call Sudanese refugees “a cancer in our bodies.” It is the false belief of many in the Israeli government that the vast majority of African refugees are there not because they are actually refugees, but because they can find a better chance at economic gain in Israel.

This xenophobia is evident in the numbers of African refugees that have gained refugee status in Israel. Whereas nearly half of Sudanese and over 80 percent of Eritreans have found refugee status in other countries, less than one percent of refugees have received it in Israel. In fact, since its independence in 1948, Israel has granted fewer than 200 people refugee status.

In response to this, demonstrations and strikes by thousands of African refugees have taken place within Israel, most in Jerusalem, that ask for a restructuring of Israeli asylum and detention policies. Many more refugees in Israel have found their way into a detention center or have been deported than have found a place of refuge.

Signs at the demonstrations included benign statements such as “We are seeking asylum,” “Don’t split up families” and “We are refugees, not criminals.” Meanwhile, the daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth ran the headline “The Infiltrators Conquered the Square,” with the subtitle “An existential problem.”

The square of the headline is Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, roughly 35 miles northwest of Jerusalem, where a demonstration took place that protested the recent amendment of the Prevention of Infiltration Law. Asylum seekers in the country are now under the threat of being placed into detention centers indefinitely. Because of this amendment, refugees must choose between being a prisoner and leaving the country.

However, there are many- refugees and activists alike- who are prepared to persist in their fight for recognition and acceptance as refugees. Only time will tell if Israel will have a change of heart.

– Jordan Schunk

Sources: +927, Capital Eritrea, The Guardian, New Yorker, Pravda, San Diego Jewish World, The Times of Israel

The End of a 50-Year Debate: Lake Malawi Mediation Begins in MarchA border dispute between Malawi and Tanzania that has remained unresolved for almost fifty years should be resolved within the next three months, according to government officials of both countries. The dispute involves ownership of Lake Malawi, also known as Lake Nyasa in Tanzania and Lago Niassa in Mozambique.

Lake Malawi is located in the southeastern region of Africa between Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania. It is Africa’s third-largest and second-deepest lake and is the ninth-largest lake in the world.

The lake is an extremely valuable resource for the region’s inhabitants. Besides being home to thousands of types of fish and other plants and wildlife, Lake Malawi is the primary source of income, food, transportation, and other basic needs for about 1.5 million Malawians and 600,000 Tanzanians. Local residents report that they are unable to cross freely between the countries because of tension, and even mistreatment, at the border.

The dispute over Lake Malawi ownership began in 1963 with the reaffirmation of the Heligoland Agreement, which stated that the national border lay on the Tanzanian side of the lake. Since that time, the countries have, tried twice to resolve the problem, to no avail. Malawi claims ownership of the lake as a stipulation of the treaty, while Tanzania claims the treaty is flawed and that the boundary should be redrawn down the lake’s center.

The dispute has come to a head recently due to the Malawian government reports that Lake Malawi holds rich mineral and oil deposits beneath its floor. Over the last eight months, Malawi has awarded oil exploration licenses to oil companies based in the United Kingdom and South Africa, which has increased tensions between the countries. Officials are hopeful that with the help of an objective third party, the Forum for Former African Heads of State and Government, the dispute will finally be resolved.

– Kat Henrichs

Source: All Africa
Photo: Real Malawi Travel