Ethiopia and Kenya Move to End Border Conflict
Ethiopia and Kenya have signed a $200m (£130) trade deal which aims to bring an end to ongoing border conflicts between the two countries.
The deal, which is backed by the UN and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), is a “historic function” according to Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta. Tension between ethnic groups either side of the border has been fierce, due to land and water shortages.
The five-year program will tackle core issues in the northern Marsabit county of Kenya and Ethiopia’s southern Borana zone. The aim is to ease tensions by implementing a sustainable development plan that improves the lives of people on both sides of the border.
“The program being launched is transformative in nature,” Kenyatta said on Monday. “Poverty and violence have rained and we must do everything to end conflict and ensure people in those marginalized areas have equal opportunities like all other parts of the country.”
Relations between the two countries had been strained after Ethiopian forces recently crossed the Kenyan border to hunt members of the Oromo Liberation Movement (OLF) – a group the Ethiopian government deems as terrorists.
A united front across borders
Ethiopia Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn highlighted the importance of relations between Kenya and his home nation at the ceremony where the deal was signed.
“Cross-border cooperation is an integral element of the inevitable and already begun process of regional integration between and among our sisterly nations”, he said.
Cross-border cooperation has been a key tactic in the UN’s mission to reduce poverty and speed up development in the horn of Africa since 2014. Hundreds of people have been killed in conflicts across the Ethiopia-Kenyan border in recent years and tens of thousands have been displaced.
The new trade deal aims to promote business in the area and improve the supply of natural resources – the main cause of violence between groups across the border.