Ethiopia-Kenya: Authorities to meet over border tension


Posted on June 20, 2011 13:31

Ethiopian and Kenyan authorities have agreed to hold an urgent meeting in Addis Ababa to find a lasting solution to border concerns. Tension over land grazing and water related issues in the Turkana and Nyangatom areas of the Dasenesh communities – in Kenya and Ethiopia respectively – are believed to have triggered violent clashes last month that killed over 23 people.

In spite of various border commission meetings that have been carried out at both ministerial and local levels to reconcile the two sides since the start of the clashes, tension is still palpable in the Turkana and Dasenesh communities, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has noted. Another meeting has been scheduled to take place on June 25, 2011 in Kenya.

After last month’s violent clashes, reports indicated that delegations from the Ethiopian Conflict Early Warning and Response Unit (CEWERU), the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State (SNNPRS) and the Conflict Early Warning Response Mechanism (CEWARN) had visited the Karamoja cluster on the Ethiopian side of the border between June 11 – 13, 2011, to assess the implementation of decisions that had been made during an Ethio-Kenya Joint Border Commissioners and Administrators meeting that had taken place in Nairobi on May 27.

“The Border Commissioners meeting had been convened following incidents that left 23 people dead on both sides along the border areas. Several other meetings have also been held between Ethiopia and Kenya administrators at the local level following the confrontations,” said the ministry.

In a joint communiqué issued after the Border Commissioners meeting, and subsequent agreements reached during local level meetings, the two sides agreed to relocate settlements found on wrong sides of the international border, apprehend suspected criminals, recover and exchange livestock seized in cross-border raids and facilitate communal dialogue.

“The delegation that visited the area at the weekend was able to see that concrete measures are starting to be taken on the Ethiopian side of the border,” said the ministry.

It also says that around 1500 members of the Dassenech (Merille) community have so far been relocated from Seyes, a village community in Kenya, to some 800 metres away from the border and within the confines of Ethiopia. Around 20 Dassenech, allegedly involved in the May 2 clashes, have also been arrested.

“Local administration officials are in the process of holding ongoing consultations with the Dassenech community to mobilise them in support of communal dialogue and peaceful co-existence. A team, drawn from local administration officials and Dassenech elders, is going to inspect the boundary beacons erected along the Ethio-Kenya border,” added the ministry, “Whilst considerable progress has been made on the Ethiopian side of the border, local officials have been concerned that there has been much less done on the Kenyan side,”

It indicated that the Kenyan authorities have yet to detain any of the Turkana individuals involved in the incidents.

“In addition, it appears that a large number of Turkana have moved into the Nyangatom areas since May 29. They are reportedly armed and have stated their intent to attack. Turkana groups have been sighted in the various Nyangatom areas, and some Turkana have burnt down abandoned houses in Natikar. A number of Nyangatom communities have abandoned their homes fearing further attacks. The delegation was able to verify these reports during its site visitations along the border,” reveals the Ethiopian Ministry of foreign affairs.

“Similarly, the Rift Valley Provincial Administration and North Turkana District in Kenya need to exert their influence on the Turkana groups to return to the Kenyan side of the border. They must persuade these Turkana to refrain from further crossings into Nyangatom territory until an agreement is reached between the two communities”.

Meanwhile, the Ethiopian CEWERU, the ministry says, has alerted its Kenyan counterpart through the CEWARN mechanism.

The recent Ethiopia Kenya Joint Ministerial Commission meeting in Addis Ababa also called on the administrators on both sides of the border to act on this as a matter of urgency.

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