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The Ethiopian government on Wednesday urged concerted cultural diplomacy efforts around Ethiopia and Kenya borders so as to alleviate the recurrent deadly conflicts among communities along the two countries’ borders.

As part of this cultural diplomacy, the Turkana Culture and Tourism Festival will be jointly organized by the East African neighboring countries bringing together some 10,000 participants towards promoting peaceful coexistence among border communities,

“Cultural diplomacy efforts around Ethiopia and Kenya borders have a pivotal role to alleviate the recurrent conflicts and ensure development,” Ethiopia’s state-run news agency ENA quoted Meles Alem, Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Kenya, as saying on Wednesday.

According to Alem, the upcoming event “will help pastoralist communities of the two countries to create closeness and enable them to have a common understanding on the issue of development and the declining conflicts from time to time.”

Conflicts around the two countries border areas, driven by scarcity of pasture and water, cattle rustling, politics of ethnicity and administrative boundary disputes, often cause deadly calamities.

The two countries, in recent years, have been undertaking various measures towards promoting cultural and diplomatic relations so as to avert recurrent conflicts.

In April this year, a regional conference on peace along Ethiopia-Kenya borders had also emphasized on the need to employ concerted efforts to ensure sustainable peace that enables addressing poverty and development challenges of cross-border communities of the two countries.

The high-level conference, which was organized by the Ethiopia-Kenya Cross-border Peace and Development Initiative in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, mainly explored ways of enhancing peace and security among communities living along the borders of the two countries.

The regional peace conference, which brought together government officials from Ethiopia and Kenya as well as representatives of UN, EU, and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), mainly aimed to tackle recurrent conflicts among communities along the two countries’ borders.

The conference is also said to be part of the grand initiatives aimed at addressing conflicts and to ensure sustainable peace and economic growth along the borders of Ethiopia and Kenya, in the areas of Moyale-Marsabit, Omo-Turkana and Mandera.

Ethiopia’s State Minister of Peace, Zeynu Jamal, who recalled a recent incident in Moyale that had devastating impacts on the lives of communities in the area, stressed that peace conferences would facilitate for open discourse among stakeholders and uncover underlying causes and structural bottlenecks for instability in the area.

“Regrettably, a high number of people died, hundreds of populations became displaced and their livelihoods destroyed, development opportunities lost and poverty aggravated in the area,” Jamal said as he described the urgent need to contend such incidents.

Josephat Nanok, Governor of Kenya’s Turkana County, also stressed that the communities along the borders of Ethiopia share similarities in many aspects, but deadly conflicts occur in those areas.

“We had chronic conflicts among communities across these regions, and most of these conflicts go around the competition of natural resources, fetching in Lake Turkana – Omo River Delta, pastures and livestock,” said Nanok.

Mohamud Mohamed Ali, Governor of Kenya’s Marsabit, on his part had also underlined the need to employ joint efforts to address the conflicts that may arise among the communities in the cross-border areas, and realize common goals of development and prosperity.

“Destiny of Ethiopia and Kenya is interconnected and our identities are intertwined. We, the leadership in Kenya, nationally and locally believe in the shared identity of our peoples and the common destiny of our countries,” said Ali. Enditem

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