Call for Easing of Ethiopia-Sudan Border Tensions

On May 4, 2021 Ethiopia issued a statement accusing Sudan of "increasingly bellicose propaganda" regarding their border and negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). It criticised Sudan's May 1, 2021 claim of sovereignty over Ethiopia's Benishangul-Gumuz region, where the dam is being constructed. This is an escalation of the border dispute between Sudan and Ethiopia that started in November 2020 over al-Fashaga, an area between Sudan's eastern province of Al Qadarif and Ethiopia's Amhara and Tigray regional states. It also points to the growing intersection of the border dispute with the stalled negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the GERD. A potential border war threatening to destabilise the two countries and the entire region. How the issue is handled will also have severe consequences for political transitions in both countries. Ultimately the two must reach a political accord that can pave the way for technical negotiations. This means gaining internal support for talks, which may be difficult considering both countries' domestic problems. In the short term, tensions must be eased to prevent the conflict becoming another destabilising factor in Ethiopia, Sudan and the region writes Shewit Woldemichael for the Institute for Security Studies.

InFocus

Ethiopian refugees register with UNHCR at Um Rakuba camp in Al Qadarif state, Sudan, after fleeing their home.

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