Decades of violence has deterred development in areas either side of frontier
By Magdalene Mukami
NAIROBI, Kenya – The leaders of Kenya and Ethiopia met Monday to launch an initiative to end violence along their 780-kilometer (485-mile) frontier.
President Uhuru Kenyatta met Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to witness the signing of a deal to spur development and raise living standards through trade in the border region.
“The challenge of transforming this region is momentous. For the communities of our border lines, conflict has been common. Poverty and violence has followed on its wake,” Kenyatta said during the launch of the program at Moyale Town in Kenya’s Marsabit County.
“Our task is to do everything that we can to end the conflict and to make certain that Kenyans and Ethiopians in this region have the same opportunities as other citizens of our nations.”
The border area has been marred by sporadic outbreaks of violence in unoccupied territory.
In 2013, 200 people were killed and 54,000 displaced in the Turbi massacre and insecurity has hindered development.
Last month, three Kenyan police officers were gunned down by Ethiopian security forces as they patrolled the Sololo area in Marsabit County.
Kenyatta said that the cross-border program was a step towards achieving peace and tranquility along the Kenya-Ethiopia border.
“Together we have worked to bring peace to our neighbor Somalia and together we will end the conflicts in our border lands,” he said.
Desalegn said his government placed great importance on achieving sustainable and lasting peace. The deal “provides a well thought out strategy to resolve the multitude of developmental and security challenges that this region has faced for decades”, he said.