Sudan uses Tigray war to seize border area disputed with Ethiopia

Source: Dabanga

Sudan’s army regains control of border region after 25 years

December 3 – 2020 EL FASHAGA

Ethiopian shifta gunmen (File photo)

Ethiopian shifta gunmen (File photo)

The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) have reportedly taken control of the area of Khor Yabis in eastern El Gedaref on the border between Sudan and Ethiopia. The Radi El Fashaga Committee said in a statement on Wednesday that the army recovered Khor Yabis in El Fashaga El Sughra, off Barakat Norein, after 25 years of absence.

The committee expressed its hope for the deployment of the armed forces in the entire El Fashaga locality and “the restoration of Sudanese sovereignty”.

A military source from El Fashaga confirmed the deployment of the armed forces in half of the area that was formerly occupied by Ethiopian gunmen (called shifta in the region).

The shifta regularly conduct violent cross-border raids to steal crops and livestock, or kidnap people for ransom.

The 1,600 kilometre border between Sudan and Ethiopia was drawn in colonial times. No clear demarcation of the border has been made since the country became independent in 1956. The lack of clear border markers has made it easy for Ethiopian militants to occupy fertile farmlands in eastern El Gedaref.

Ethiopian farmers have been cultivating crops for decades along the border. The lands are protected by Ethiopian gunmen. Farmers in El Fashaga and the El Gedaref governor have demanded that these lands be returned to them.

Tigray conflict

Thousands of Ethiopians continue to flow across the border into Sudan, fleeing the the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia’s restive Tigray region. Women, men, and children have been crossing the border at the rate of 4,000 a day since 10 November, rapidly overwhelming the humanitarian response capacity on the ground, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok has asked the UNHCR for technical and programmatic assistance to deal with the influx of Ethiopian refugees. He and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi agreed to organise an international conference on refugee issues to be hosted by Khartoum at the beginning of next year.

The UN on Friday announced that agreement has been reached with the Ethiopian government to allow “unimpeded, sustained, and secure access” for humanitarian supplies to reach those in need across areas now under its control in Tigray.

Confirming details of the deal at UN Headquarters in New York, Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said that the safe passage of aid supplies and staff also extends to the Ethiopian regions of Amhara and Afar, bordering Tigray, where fighting between federal and regional forces, has impacted around six million people during the past month.

UN humanitarian coordination office (OCHA) spokesperson based in Nairobi, Saviano Abreu, told local reporters earlier that the first mission to carry out a needs assessment would begin on Wednesday.

He added that the UN was committed to engaging with “all parties to the conflict” and ensuring that aid was distributed “strictly based on needs”.

‘Globally agreed principles’

Mr. Dujarric said that all aid distribution would be carried out “in compliance with the globally-agreed principles of humanity, impartiality, independence and neutrality. This includes working to ensure that people impacted by the conflict are assisted without distinction of any kind other than the urgency of their needs.”

The UN estimates that some two million are now in need of assistance in and around Tigray and some one million have been displaced by the fighting, including more than 45,000 who have fled across the border into Sudan.

Note: Background to this story can be found here: THE HISTORY OF GALLABAT, Sudan Notes and Records, Vol. 7, No. 1 (JULY 1924), pp. 93-101 (9 pages), Published By: University of Khartoum

And here: Middle East Monitor

Sudanese farmers angry at Ethiopian land grab

Image of Ethiopian farmland on 16 March 2015 [Rod Waddington/Flickr]

Image of Ethiopian farmland on 16 March 2015 []

Ethiopians are still controlling more than 500,000 acres of land on the Sudanese side of the border in the area of El Gedaref, according to Sudanese farmers angry that an agreement to return the agricultural land has not been honoured.

The allegations have been made in a statement issued by farmers from the El Fashaga area in Eastern Sudan who claimed that Ethiopians have not returned sections of agricultural land upon which five residential villages have been partly-constructed.

Attempts to resolve the issues have been ongoing since 2013 when a joint Sudanese-Ethiopian Committee agreed to end disputes between farmers from the two sides of the border over the ownership of agricultural land.

Read: Sudan military rejects claims of heavy losses in Yemen

In a statement last week, the Governor of El Gedaref state, Mirghani Saleh claimed a small area at El Gedeima, not exceeding 15,000 acres, had been returned from Ethiopian farmers.

However, Sudanese farmers and the area’s local Member of Parliament, speaking to media outlets, contradicted the state governor’s claim. They are calling on the Sudanese government to resort to international arbitration and demarcation of the border and demanding compensation to be paid to the affected farmers.

El Fashaga land is owned by Sudan but the Sudanese government allowed Ethiopian farmers to cultivate it as part of a cooperation agreement. Violent disputes between the two sides resulted in the establishment of a technical committee which was tasked with redrawing the border.

However, despite the agreement made in 2013, rivalry over agricultural land and clashes at the border has continued with reports of Ethiopian gangs attacking Sudanese farmers and extorting them.




  1. Sudan is taking advantage what is going on in tigray, and it is bad what is Sudan doing at the moment, it is not a time to gripe a land.sudan will be seen as aggressor.

  2. SUDAN is taking the right move at this time. We all know it is Sudannese land but the Ethiopian government at the time and the Sudanese government has made an agreement. But the Ethiopian shifta ( amhara millitary) have been attacking the Sudanese civilians in the area. So now is the time to take the land we support you Sudan.

  3. Ethiopian government should instead discourage its citizens from criminal activities of extorting Sudanese stuffs. That’s unsafe for the people at the border… the border people deserves a better understanding to leave as neighbours that both governments must collaborate to effect the hostility seem at play as reported.

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