KHARTOUM – Sudan’s military continues to deploy in disputed Sudanese agricultural lands neighboring Ethiopia’s war-torn Tigray region. The Sudanese government is not commenting on troop movements.
Sudanese forces moved into the farming area bordering Ethiopia on Thursday and have spread out since on land that had been controlled by Ethiopian militias for over 25 years — a longstanding source of friction between Khartoum and Addis Ababa.
Ethiopian armed groups called “Shefta” are very active during harvest time every year, stealing crops from farms in Fashaqa and other localities claimed by Sudan.
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A local security official who requested anonymity told VOA Sudanese troops are asserting control of the territory.
He says the Sudanese military spread east of Berkat Norain — originally Sudanese land. Because the Ethiopian military is busy with the Tigray conflict, it’s a chance for the Sudanese military to take over this area.
In May of this year, an Ethiopian militia attacked the villages surrounding Eastern Qadarif city, resulting in the deaths of five civilians and several Sudanese military casualties.
Sudan condemned the attack and accused Ethiopia’s government of supporting the militias.
Khartoum-based Analyst Mohydeen Jibreel recently visited the area.
Jibreel says he doesn’t think Sudan or Ethiopia will comment on the Sudanese troop movement, adding that Ethiopia has bigger issues to contend with and does not want conflict with Sudan.
Sudan is hosting Ethiopian refugees who fled fighting in Tigray when war erupted there in November between the federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
More than 43,000 refugees are divided among three camps in Sudan’s cities of Qadarif and Kassala.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates the number of refugees will reach 100,000 in few weeks.