People who live in towns
along Ethiopia’s border with Eritrea are not worried about another war. Even though UNMEE peacekeeping troops pulled
out in August and opposing armed military forces face one another, life in
these towns is quiet, too quiet.
The big problem in Zalambesa
and other towns near the long-disputed border is severe economic hardship
brought on by drought, escalating food prices and eight years of a failing
local economy, say students, merchants and priests who talked to VOA’s Girmay
Residents of Zalambesa said
these remote community have been cut off from the rest of the country and from
their neighbors to the north, and their businessed have suffered. They said shopkeepers can’t run their
businesses and the local economy is in critical condition. These towns are remote and as long as the
border between the two countries remains closed, businesses are doomed.
Tsega Baraki, a business
woman in Zalambesa, said she and other traders in the area bought teff, wheat
and other commodities but they can’t sell them.
“People don’t have the
capacity to buy food so that everyone is living having the food aid from the
government.” She said it’s difficult to buy wheat at 630 birr a quintal, and
teff at 980 birr. “The only thing we
need is peace. We need it very badly and it is in the hands of both
governments,” said Tsega.
Tirhas Hagos, who also lives
in Zalambesa, said “Because of scarcity of rain in the area, there will be
drought risk.” She added that the federal government has not yet started to
sell lower-priced wheat in local kebeles.
“We need peace
from both governments,” said Ato Kiros Gebremedhin one of the elders in
Zalambesa. “Economic recovery in the
town is unthinkable unless there is peace and normalization between Ethiopia