(Relief Web) — Ethiopian militiamen are occupying more than 50 villages and a million acres of farmland in the eastern localities of El Gedaref state, says Mohamed El Mardi, chairman of the state’s Legislative Council.
He reported in a press statement on Thursday that the repeated attacks by Ethiopians have prompted a number of Sudanese farmers to abandon their lands and villages in the localities of El Fashaga, El Gureisha, and East El Galabat.
Families in these localities also lost a lot of money to Ethiopian militiamen who kidnap farmers in the area. A group of 20 Sudanese who were kidnapped near the border in El Gedaref state last week, were released after the payment of a ransom of SDG360,000 (nearly $59,000).
The MP said that Ethiopian military units have entered three Sudanese border districts which he did not specify.
El Gedaref and the southern Blue Nile state border the Ethiopian Amhara region.
El Mardi demanded Khartoum to speed up the demarcation of the border between Sudan and Ethiopia, repeating the call of the Governor of El Gedaref state in August. Governor El Mirghani Saleh then called for redrawing the border, to end the recurrent land disputes permanently.
Both governments agreed more than once in the past to redraw the borders, drawn by the British and Italian colonisers in 1908. However, the talks were postponed over and over again. Moreover, Ethiopian opposition groups accuse Addis Ababa of ceding Ethiopian territory to Sudan.
In December 2013, the joint Sudanese-Ethiopian High Committee announced that it reached an agreement to end disputes between farmers from two sides of the border over the ownership of agricultural land, particularly in El Fashaga.
El Fashaga which covers an area of about 250 square kilometres, including 600.000 acres of fertile lands, irrigated by the Atbara, Seteit, and Baslam rivers flowing across the state.