The Sudanese-Ethiopian border -

The omens of diplomatic tension between Sudan and Ethiopia coincide with border tension on the ground, which reached its maximum with the closure of the continental road between the two countries at the Galabat crossing by Khartoum, in response to the kidnapping of an Ethiopian militia, the commander of the military al-Qalabat region.

Along the 1,600-kilometre border between the two countries, security and humanitarian problems are increasing due to the crisis of Ethiopian refugees of warring nationalities who have fled to the Sudanese states of Gedaref and Blue Nile.

The border crisis is illustrated by the conflict over the Fashaqah lands that Sudan recently recovered, taking advantage of the war in the Tigray region, which also stimulated conflicts over land and resources between the Amhara tribe allied with the federal government in Addis Ababa, and the rest of the Tigrayans, the Cominites, the Oromos, and the Qumuz.

As a result of these conflicts, more than 70,000 Ethiopian refugees, most of them from Tigrays, fled to Sudan, as well as new waves of asylum from the Komint and Qumuz nationalities.

Since November 2020, tens of thousands of Tigrayans have fled to Gedaref State.

In February and last May, the states of Blue Nile and Gedaref received refugees from the Qumuz tribe from the Benishangul region.

Since last July, refugees from the Komnt and Qumuz have been flowing from the Amhara region towards Gedaref as well.

Traffic stopped at the gate leading to the Gallabat Crossing (Al-Jazeera)

grim fate

Since last July 24, Sudan has closed the Al-Qalabat crossing on the continental road with Ethiopia, which is the main outlet for the movement of trade and goods between the two countries.

The crossing turned into a ghost town, after the merchants closed their shops and the commercial exchange stopped.

The merchant "Ahmed" who works in the trade of used goods "scrap" was forced to close his shop and move his goods to the city of Gedaref due to the closure of the crossing.

"Al-Najeeb" - the owner of a pharmacy in the town of Basinda near the dumps - expects the agricultural season to fail if the crossing continues to be closed, through which cheap Ethiopian workers come to work in the vast areas of rain-fed agriculture.

The closure came in response to the kidnapping of an Ethiopian militia, the commander of the military flankers area, Captain Bahaa El-Din Youssef, who led a small force to liberate 3 children from the militia's hands, but he was captured in an ambush.

Negotiations between the leaders of the two countries' forces, stationed on both sides of the crossing, failed to end the crisis.

The Sudanese side insists on knowing the fate of the kidnapped officer, "dead or alive".

Um Rakuba camp for Tigray refugees in Gedaref (Al Jazeera)

transient crimes

Al Jazeera Net reviewed security reports confirming the increase in cross-border crimes in Gedaref State, related to human trafficking and arms and drug smuggling.

According to one of these reports, a police force in Basanda locality, which borders Ethiopia, managed last month to arrest 3 suspects on board a truck loaded with 16 Ethiopian victims of human trafficking.

According to a military source, arms seizures and human trafficking are increasing, which means that these activities are very popular on the borders of the two countries.

Last March, a bulletin reported that a truck loaded with 600 Turkish-made pistols had been seized at an Ethiopian checkpoint.

The bulletin indicated the entry of weapons from Sudan to the Ethiopian region of Abra Jeera, and was on its way to the city of Qandar in the governorate of Amhara region, and considered this a threat to the security and stability of the country.

military crowds

Hamdayet, in the Sudanese state of Kassala, near the triangle of meeting the border with Ethiopia and Eritrea, has turned into an area of ​​great military tension between the three countries, which have deployed military reinforcements on their borders.

The opening of the three countries' forces came in the region that the State River splits with its rugged banks, after the "Tigray Liberation Front" regained the city of "Mekele", the capital of the region, and attempted to regain control of the western regions of the region in Welkayit and Hamra.

According to the Sudanese journalist interested in the affairs of the Horn of Africa, Mohamed Hamid Jumaa, Washington's call to withdraw the Amhara militias and the Ethiopian and Eritrean armies, which are allied forces, from the West Tigray region, gives the region's citizens background supply lines that have historically been linked to the factors of military transitions.

In light of the Tigrayan victories, the tension of the Ethiopian forces, east of the Sett River, increased the concentration of thousands of Tigrayan refugees in Hamdayit on the western bank of the river.

The director of the refugee reception center in Hamdayit Yaqoub Muhammad Yaqoub said that the Ethiopian forces are tense, as some refugees are trying to return to help their relatives who want to cross the wild Sett River during the flood season.

According to military information, 6 Ethiopian tanks were spotted on the western bank of the river, and heavy weapons directed towards the borders of Sudan were on alert.

Indeed, snipers targeted refugees who were on the way to the crossing.

The body of a Tigrayan escapee was recovered from the State River in eastern Sudan (communication sites)

corpse river

Gibru Temfai, head of the Ethiopian community, Bud Al Helio, of Kassala State, told Al Jazeera Net that 5 naked bodies of Tigray escapees were recovered from the State River last Friday and Saturday, with signs of torture, as well as mutilation.

He confirms that 47 bodies have been recovered so far, which has reinforced the fears of the Sudanese villages bordering the river about the possibility of contamination of its waters.

And a Twitter account run by the Ethiopian government said that "the accounts circulating about the bodies, on social media, were due to a false propaganda campaign in Tigray."

In addition, cross-border smuggling gangs are very active at the triad of border crossings between the three countries, as the region includes pockets where the forces of these countries avoid penetration so as not to cross the international borders.

Refugees from the Ethiopian Komnt tribe in the country of Basinga in Gedaref, eastern Sudan (Al-Jazeera)

Diplomatic crisis

In view of the growing border tension, the omens of the diplomatic crisis between Khartoum and Addis Ababa seem logical, especially since the Amhara nationalism controls the joints of the Ethiopian state, and it is the stakeholder in the lands of Fashaqa, she says.

Last Sunday, Sudan summoned its ambassador to Ethiopia, to consult on recent statements by senior Ethiopian officials refusing to help Khartoum end the raging conflict in the Tigray region, claiming that it is not neutral and occupied Ethiopian lands.

The Sudanese Foreign Ministry said in a statement, "The initiative of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok within the framework of his presidency (the Intergovernmental Authority on Development) aims to encourage the Ethiopian parties to reach a comprehensive ceasefire and enter into a political dialogue."

But Addis Ababa said last week that its confidence in some Sudanese leaders had been "eroded" and accused Sudan's army of "incursion" into its borders.