On Wednesday, December 26, Eritrean authorities reportedly closed the Zalambessa and Rama crossings along the border with Ethiopia's Tigray region. According to local sources, border restrictions have been implemented for Ethiopian citizens traveling to and from Eritrea. As of Friday, December 28, it remains unclear why authorities closed the crossings. A heightened security presence is expected in the area in the near term.
Border crossings between Ethiopia and Eritrea reopened in September following the formal restoration of diplomatic ties between the two countries at a summit in Asmara in July. On July 9, Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki signed a "joint declaration of peace and friendship" at a summit in Asmara (Eritrea's capital), signaling a historic rapprochement between the two countries, and pledged to work toward increasing transnational cooperation. Promised changes included the reopening of embassies, access to ports, restoration of commercial flight connections, and implementation of the UN-brokered border agreement. Telecommunications between the two countries, blocked for over two decades, were also reestablished.
A UN peacekeeping force has been deployed along the Ethiopia-Eritrea border since 1998, when a border conflict broke out between the two countries. Tens of thousands of people died during the 1998-2000 conflict. Although a peace treaty was signed in 2000, tensions have remained high at the border in the intervening years and periodic border clashes continued to occur.
Travelers are advised to keep abreast of the situation and avoid the Eritrea-Ethiopia border. More generally, individuals in Ethiopia or Eritrea are advised to monitor developments to the local situation, to remain vigilant at all times, and to avoid any form of public demonstration or public gathering due to the risk of violence. Adhere to all instructions issued by authorities and respect all local laws. Despite the recent thaw in diplomatic relations, the Eritrea-Ethiopia border should continue to be avoided due to ongoing security concerns at the historically tense frontier.
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