After 20 Years of Silence, Strangers in Ethiopia and Eritrea Name to Say Hey


“I don’t know you, you don’t know me, however I’m from Ethiopia and I’m so excited to speak to you.”

That was the message Roman Tafessework Gomeju had for the stranger on the opposite finish of the cellphone line when she referred to as a lodge in neighboring Eritrea this week from her dwelling in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

For 20 years, this cellphone name would have been unimaginable.

Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia within the early 1990s, however then a border warfare broke out between them later that decade, locking the 2 international locations in hostilities and leaving tens of 1000’s lifeless.

Cross-border journey was banned, the embassies have been closed, flights have been canceled and cellphone calls on landlines and cellphone networks weren’t permitted between the 2 international locations. Then this week, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia and President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea introduced a proper declaration of peace between the 2 nations. Financial, cultural and diplomatic ties could be cast once more.

And now with cellphone providers restored, some folks have begun calling strangers, simply to say whats up.

Ms. Gomeju, 32, remembered listening to tales from her father about the great thing about Eritrea. He had lived in Asmara, Eritrea’s capital, for 5 years and would inform her in regards to the good meals, the clear streets and the pleasant folks.

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“I used to assume, ‘Wow, it is a place I need to see as soon as in my life,’ and this couldn’t occur for the previous 20 years due to the warfare,” Ms. Gomeju stated.

When she heard the information {that a} peace settlement had been reached, she was wanting to share her pleasure with Eritreans.

“It was like a dream come true, and after I noticed that the land line was working, I stated, O.Okay., who ought to I name?” Ms. Gomeju stated. “I don’t know anybody there, and I’m not from that space. I don’t know the language, however I felt I ought to name somebody.”

So she searched on-line for inns in Asmara and dialed one of many numbers.

The lady on the opposite finish of the road spoke one other language — Tigrinya, a language spoken by many in Eritrea — however Ms. Gomeju handed the cellphone to a buddy who translated. The lady on the lodge in Asmara stated that she, too, was excited and glad to be talking with somebody in Ethiopia.

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“When somebody answered my name, I couldn’t imagine it, did I actually name Asmara?” Ms. Gomeju stated. “It’s a second I received’t neglect in my life.”

“I made the decision as a result of I used to be extraordinarily glad due to the brand new starting of Ethiopia and Eritrea,” Ms. Negash stated. “Our international locations have seen one another as an enemy for therefore lengthy, and lots of have misplaced their lives. However now they made peace, which shocked me and the entire world.”

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In one other Twitter message, Natan Belachew, additionally from Addis Ababa, detailed the same expertise after dialing a random quantity and talking with a lady in Asmara.

And strangers weren’t the one ones benefiting from the restored strains of communication. Members of the family and mates who had been separated by the years of warfare additionally scrambled to name each other.

The agreements the leaders signed are additionally as a result of reopen the 2 embassies and restore flights between the capitals of the 2 nations.

Ethiopian Airways will once more fly from Addis Ababa to Asmara, starting on July 18, in accordance with Fitsum Arega, the chief of employees of the Ethiopian prime minister’s workplace.

All Ethiopian and Eritrean passport holders will be capable to journey throughout the border and will likely be granted entry visas, officers stated.

Ms. Gomeju stated she deliberate to go to Asmara as quickly as potential to see for herself the sights her father as soon as described.


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