Ethiopia’s Border Affairs Committee (EBAC) has urged Sudan to urgently pull its forces from forcibly occupied “Ethiopian territories”.
In a statement, the Border Affairs Committee said the Sudanese army has currently occupied areas 20 to 40 km deep inside Ethiopian territory since December 15, 2020.
According to the Sudanese News Agency, Sudan, on December 19, officially admitted deploying its army towards the Ethiopian border to “reclaim its usurped lands from an Ethiopian militia” in al-Fashqa area.
According to the Turkish news agency, Anadolu, the Sudanese army on Monday claimed retaking control of an area in the al-Fashqa border region with Ethiopia.
“All we have done is restore our land, which is known to all [as part of Sudanese territory],” said the army’s deputy chief of staff, Lt-Gen Khaled Abdin al-Shami.
Sudan’s border incursions come as Addis Ababa remains focused on its internal conflict in the troubled Northern Tigray region.
The border committee accused Khartoum of taking advantage of the internal conflict within Ethiopia to occupy “sovereign Ethiopian territories”.
Earlier last month, Sudan accused Ethiopian defence forces and Amhara regional militias of ambushing Sudanese troops along the border, leaving four dead and more than 20 wounded.
“The current invasion has been carried out by a mechanized army of the regular Sudanese defence forces”.
It warned that Sudan’s unprovoked aggression is likely to go beyond the two countries and could destabilise the entire region.
EBAC condemned what it said was “the horrendous crimes of rampant killings, burnings and massive property destruction and looting the Sudanese forces have committed against Ethiopian citizens in recent times”.
It said the unprovoked aggression would be a major impediment to the peaceful neighbourly relations between the two countries.
“EBAC would like to remind that Ethiopia has a dependable defence force capable of protecting the country from any foreign invasion,” it said.
It further said that the Ethiopian defence forces are capable of dislodging any invaders from Ethiopian territories, no matter how much they think they are entrenched.
“It is important to note that the Ethiopian defence forces have the power to take back areas occupied by the invading army.”
As Sudanese forces advance further deep into the Ethiopian territories, Addis Ababa warned it would take military action.
“If Sudan does not stop expanding into Ethiopian territories, Ethiopia will be forced to launch a counter-offensive,” Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti said.
EBAC further condemned Egypt’s alleged interference in the internal affairs of Ethiopia and asked “Cairo to desist from its destructive role of adding fuel to the fire”.
“It is no secret that Egypt offers full support to Sudan’s on and off armed incursions and invasions into sovereign Ethiopian territories,” said EBAC.
It said Sudan’s decision stands out as a sign of belligerence and that, along with its partner Egypt, they should quickly revise their stand for the sake of maintaining peace and good neighbourliness.
Yesterday, Al Jazeera reported that Sudan’s foreign minister has said the army has restored control over all lands along the border that had been taken over by Ethiopian farmers.
“The armed forces have now fully recovered all Sudanese territory,” Minister Omar Qamareddine told a Khartoum news conference on Thursday.
“The borders have already been demarcated, all that’s remaining in our talks … is increasing the border signs,” Qamareddine said.
The border committee called on the Sudanese government to withdrawal immediately and engage in dialogue to reverse “the adverse situation that has been created as a result of the invasion”.
It urged the Sudanese army to immediately and unconditionally withdraw from occupied Ethiopian territories, including Guangua Milash and the vast fertile area of Delelo.
“The plea is that Sudan should come back to its senses and engage in dialogue to resolve any outstanding issues with Ethiopia,” EBAC added.
It also urged Sudan to maintain the status quo of the farmers until the joint border commission carries out demarcation in accordance with the 1972 and 2005 joint border commission memorandum of understanding.
The Ethiopian Border Affairs Committee is a non-governmental civic organisation that has been closely monitoring the Ethiopian-Sudanese borders for the last 15 years.