ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
Officials from Kenya and Ethiopia convened Wednesday in a regional meeting to find and sustain a peace at the Moyale border area -- a fragile stage to many deadly conflicts.
The meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, hosted senior officials from both countries, representatives from the UN and the EU as well as the IGAD -- an eight-nation security bloc of the horn of Africa region.
Among the participants of the meeting were parliamentarians, local authorities, and community elders.
In July 2018, hundreds were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced in the ethnic conflict between Somali and Oromo communities living across the border area between Ethiopia and Kenya.
The conflict in one area has been seen to have spillover effect on the other, according to Mohamud Mohamed Ali, Governor of Kenya’s Mersabit county -- an area mostly inhabited by Somali community.
“It is our recent memory that the violence in Moyale whether it is the result of inter-community or inter-communal conflict at the cross-border areas had devastating impacts on the lives of our community members,” Ethiopia’s Deputy Peace Minister Zeynu Jamal said in his keynote address.
“Regrettably,” he said, “high number of people died, hundreds of thousands of populations became displaced and their livelihoods were destroyed, development opportunities lost and poverty aggravated in the area.”
According to Jamal, since 2012, “[…] the region has been an epicenter of violence and the communities in the area have never found the peace and order that they craved for.”
“For a few years now, the involvement of paramilitary forces and armed insurgents and the use of heavy weapons in unprecedented scale have resulted in high number of death tolls and massive scale of property destruction,” he said.
Johan Borgstam, EU’s ambassador to Ethiopia, on his part, warned of radicalization and terrorism as being threat to peace in the region.
The conference will seek ways of boosting dialogue between communities towards achieving a sustainable peace in the border region through a number of measures including long-term investment on agriculture, irrigation and infrastructure.