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07 Nov 2020 | 07:15 AM UTC

Sudan: Al-Qadarif State government closes border with Ethiopia amid continuing clashes in Tigray Region November 7

Al-Qadarif State government closes border with Ethiopia amid continuing clashes in Tigray Region November 7; monitor developments

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Event

The Al-Qadarif State government announced on Saturday, November 7, that its border with Ethiopia has been closed amid the recent clashes between the federal military and local security forces in the neighboring Tigray Region. The border will reportedly remain closed until further notice to prevent armed groups from crossing into Sudan from Ethiopia. The Sudanese army has been deployed along the border to halt any potential infiltration of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) from entering the country. 

Increased security measures and patrols are likely along the borders with Ethiopia in the medium term, with associated disruptions likely in border areas.

Context

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced that he had ordered a military offensive in the country's northern Tigray Region on Wednesday, November 4, after accusing security forces aligned with the regional Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) of attacking Ethiopian National Defense Forces' (ENDF) positions in the state. The operation prompted several days of clashes between federal and local security forces in several areas of the region, including the Dansheha, Humera, and Kekar close to the borders with Sudan and Eritrea. On Friday, much of the fighting was reported to be concentrated around Abdurafi, less than 5km (3 miles) from the Sudanese border.

The operation follows two years of escalating tensions between the TPLF and the federal government in Addis Ababa, which they had previously dominated before the appointment of Abiy as prime minister in 2018, amid claims that the region was being marginalized by his sweeping reforms program. However, tensions reached a high point in September when the TPLF staged their own regional elections in the Tigray region in defiance of a decision by the government to suspend national polls due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The federal government subsequently declared the vote illegal and the upper house of Ethiopia's parliament voted to withhold budgetary subsidies to Tigray in early October. Amid the rising tensions, regional authorities also issued a statement on Tuesday, November 3, accusing Addis Ababa of planning a war in the Tigray region.

Advice

Those in Al-Qadarif State are advised to monitor developments in Ethiopia, avoid non-essential travel in the vicinity of the border, and heed any directives issued by local authorities.

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