UN official: Ethiopia-Eritrea reconciliation inspires world on bridge building

Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie

Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie

Recent positive developments in the Ethiopia-Eritrea relations demonstrated the commitment of leadership that the world needs to demolish walls and build bridges among communities and nations, said the outgoing UN Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative and UN Humanitarian Coordinator to Ethiopia, Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie.

 

“We are facing a world where many leaders are not promoting this kind of reconciliation and bridge building,” Eziakonwa-Onochie told Ethiopia’s state news agency ENA on Saturday.

 

“The two countries, in agreeing to this peace deal, have demonstrated leadership that we need to tell the world not to build walls between the hearts of families, communities and nations,” she added.

 

After 20 years of hostility, Ethiopia and Eritrea resumed diplomatic relations this month.

 

On July 8, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, made a landmark visit to the Red Sea nation and a week after, Eritrea’s President, Isaias Afwerki, paid a visit to Ethiopia.

 

Leaders of the two countries have now agreed to end the situation and forge closer political, economic and social connections.

 

Amid the easing tensions, telecom services between the two countries have resumed, and Eritrea has reopened its embassy in Addis Ababa.

 

Ethiopian Airlines also started regular flights to Asmara on Wednesday.

 

“This is a proud moment because this is a teaching moment for the world.

 

We really hope that the world could rally behind this kind of initiative,” Eziakonwa-Onochie said.

 

Eziakonwa-Onochie further reiterated UN’s recognition regarding reconciliation among the two countries, saying that, “We welcome this historic initiative to soften the borders between the two countries, and then allow for rejuvenation of the friendship and relationship.”

 

Following Eritrea’s separation from Ethiopia in 1991, a border dispute had contributed to two years of armed conflict starting in 1998, which killed more than 70,000 people from both sides.

 

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS), an African non-profit organisation, in its latest publication on Friday entitled, ‘Can improved Ethiopia-Eritrea relations stabilise the region?’ has also indicated that the “entire Horn of Africa region will benefit” from the restart of good relations among the two East African nations. -Xinhua

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