[dehai-news] (FRANCE 24) Irob people resettling on their land


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From: Biniam Tekle (biniamt@dehai.org)
Date: Mon Nov 17 2008 - 08:49:24 EST


video report:
http://www.france24.com/en/20081114-irob-people-ethiopia-eritrea-border-war-return-highlands
Irob people reclaim their land

Friday 14 November 2008
The Irob people, who inhabit arid highlands at the frontline border between
Ethiopia and Eritrea, fled the war between the two countries at the end of
the 1990s. Only in the past three years have they started resettling on
their land. Reportages

Friday 14 November 2008
By FRANCE 24

Children are walking back from school, it is quiet and peaceful. Yet only a
few kilometers to the north is the frontline border between Ethiopia and
Eritrea.

Between 1998 and 2000 this region was devastated by a violent conflict
between the two countries. At that time, the Irob people who inhabit these
arid highlands were forced to flea the fighting, leaving their ancestral
territory to ruin and destruction. Only in the past three years have they
started resettling on their land.

The Irob are an ethnic group of 30,000 people. They have their own language
and share a unique culture. Most are Christians – Ethiopian Orthodox or
Catholics. They now fear a new war: with the local UN peace-keeping force
withdrawing from the border region in July, tension is on the rise between
Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Hagos Gidey, a local farmer, dreams aloud: "It would be good if this could
be settled peacefully: that people from Ethiopia and people from Eritrea can
come and go like they used to."

The Irob people are grateful to the current Ethiopian regime for granting
them greater autonomy in their region. For Zewde Yohannès, a farmer
displaced during the war, things are clear: Eritrea has nothing to do here.
"Ethiopia is a big country. I want to remain Ethiopian! I don't want a war!"
, he says.

Ethiopia officially accepted the new border decreed by the UN boundary
commission in 2002. According to that ruling, the Irob country is part of
Eritrea. But Ethiopia wants this demarcation to be renegotiated.

 The Irob people want to live united, not torn apart between two hostile
countries. They have been living here for the past 700 years and intend to
stay here.

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