Ethiopia-Eritrea peace process reunites family

In happier times Addisalem Hadigu's daughter is now an Eritrean soldier

In happier times Addisalem Hadigu’s daughter is now an Eritrean soldier

Ethiopian journalist Addisalem Hadigu hopes to see his Eritrean wife and two daughters for the first time in 16 years.

It comes after the leaders of the two nations signed a declaration, ending the “state of war” which has existed since their armies fought for territory between 1999 and 2000.

Road and air links between the two neighbours are expected to reopen in the next few days, while phone lines have already been restored.

Addisalem told BBC Tigrinya’s Hana Zeratsyon how the conflict destroyed his marriage and split up his family:


I lost two of my younger brothers in the war that claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people.

It made families, including mine, see each other as enemies.

I married an Eritrean, Mitslal Abrha Dirar, in 1980, when we were both 20.

In 2002, two years after the end of the border war, my wife left me – taking our two daughters with her to Eritrea. I have not seen any of them since.

As an Eritrean citizen, my wife had lost her right to work as a teacher in Ethiopia. I was worried that she would be sent back to Eritrea.

So, I helped her get an official document from Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stating that she was married to an Ethiopian and could therefore remain in the country.

My wife had also voted in a referendum in 1993, in which Eritreans formally voted for independence, after a struggle which had lasted for 30 years.

She hesitated in participating, but I told her to do it.

I said she could tell our children the history – which their father is from Ethiopia’s Tigray region and their mother from Eritrea.

I took her to vote. My wife, along with 99 per cent of Eritreans, voted to secede from Ethiopia.

Perhaps this is why she lost her job – and felt she had to leave.

It was on a Wednesday when my wife told me that she was going to visit her uncle, who lived elsewhere in Ethiopia.
I waited for her to come back with our children, but they never returned.

I learned that she had crossed into Eritrea, as a refugee and was living in a camp. -BBC

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