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How the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace process could reunite one family

Addisalem Hadigu with his youngest daughter

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Addisalem Hadigu

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In happier instances: Addisalem Hadigu’s daughter is now an Eritrean soldier

Ethiopian journalist Addisalem Hadigu hopes to peer his Eritrean spouse and two daughters for the primary time in 16 years.

It comes after the leaders of the 2 countries signed a declaration, finishing the “state of struggle” which has existed since their armies fought for territory between 1999 and 2000.

Highway and air hyperlinks between the 2 neighbours are anticipated to reopen in the following couple of days, whilst telephone strains have already been restored.

Addisalem advised BBC Tigrinya’s Hana Zeratsyon how the battle destroyed his marriage and break up up his circle of relatives:

I misplaced two of my more youthful brothers within the struggle that claimed the lives of tens of 1000’s of other folks.

It made households, together with mine, see each and every different as enemies.

I married an Eritrean, Mitslal Abrha Dirar, in 1980, after we had been each 20.

In 2002, two years after the top of the border struggle, my spouse left me – taking our two daughters along with her to Eritrea. I’ve no longer observed any of them since.

As an Eritrean citizen, my spouse had misplaced her proper to paintings as a trainer in Ethiopia. I used to be frightened that she can be despatched again to Eritrea.

So, I helped her get an reputable record from Ethiopia’s Ministry of Overseas Affairs, pointing out that she used to be married to an Ethiopian and may just due to this fact stay within the nation.

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AFP

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Tens of 1000’s died within the sour border struggle

My spouse had additionally voted in a referendum in 1993, by which Eritreans officially voted for independence, after a battle which had lasted for 30 years.

She hesitated in collaborating, however I advised her to do it.

I stated she may just inform our kids the historical past – that their father is from Ethiopia’s Tigray area and their mom from Eritrea.

I took her to vote. My spouse, together with 99% of Eritreans, voted to secede from Ethiopia.

Possibly for this reason she misplaced her task – and felt she needed to go away.

‘I felt like I had died’

It used to be on a Wednesday when my spouse advised me that she used to be going to talk over with her uncle, who lived in different places in Ethiopia.

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AFP

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The street from Ethiopia to Eritrea is anticipated to reopen within the coming days

I waited for her to return again with our kids, however they by no means returned.

I discovered that she had crossed into Eritrea, as a refugee and used to be residing in a camp.

The border used to be closed to Ethiopians, so I may just no longer move after her. I felt like I had died.

‘No respond to letters’

My circle of relatives accused me of doing one thing unhealthy to my spouse, announcing for this reason she had determined to return house. However I do know this is not true.

We had been very shut and revered each and every different. We knew handiest laughter and happiness in our circle of relatives.

She didn’t have any circle of relatives in Eritrea when she left.

My spouse left a letter for me with our neighbours.

“This feels even worse than dropping any person thru demise. I’ve left for Eritrea with my kids,” she wrote.

“I go away the boy with you. If I am getting any likelihood I will be able to write to you, if no longer care for your self.”

My neighbours sat for per week with me whilst I used to be in mourning.

After this, I may just no longer let you know in phrases the existence I lived. It could be more uncomplicated to attract it in photos.

I used to be insane. I used to be like a useless guy strolling. My existence used to be with out which means, with out style.

I needed I may just die. On a daily basis I might move to paintings and drink. This used to be my existence.

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AFP

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The struggle cemetery in Eritrea is a reminder of a long time of battle with Ethiopia

Till Ethiopia’s new Top Minister Abiy Ahmed took steps in fresh months to normalise family members with Eritrea, it used to be unimaginable to suppose that our international locations would ever make peace.

I used to pray my circle of relatives had moved to some other nation – as a result of it could had been more uncomplicated to talk over with them there than to pass the border into Eritrea.

I used to ship letters to my spouse throughout the Pink Pass, which helped households separated through the battle to track each and every different.

However I ended writing to her as a result of I by no means won any answer. I nonetheless need to meet her to determine why she left me.

‘Sensible past her years’

I wrote to my daughters, Asmera Addisalem and Danait Addisalem, thrice, and won a answer as soon as.

Because the creation of social media, I have had touch with them by means of Fb, however no longer constantly.

My youngest daughter, Danait, used to at all times ask how I used to be, and say: “We can’t communicate in voice, however we pass over you.”

I’ve no longer spoken to them for a while now.

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Corbis/Getty Pictures

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Many Ethiopians and Eritreans within the diaspora have pop out in improve of the peace procedure

I do know that my youngest daughter graduated from technical faculty and joined Sawa Army Coaching Camp.

Now she is a soldier – this means that I will’t communicate to her any longer.

The ones doing nationwide provider in Eritrea can’t elevate cell phones.

I consider her existence to be difficult. Even though I’ve improbable love for all my kids, I’ve a particularly deep love for my youngest daughter.

She is clever and smart past her years. She does no longer tolerate lies and robbery.

Extra at the Ethiopia-Eritrea reconciliation:

Making peace with ‘Africa’s North Korea’

The person who’s converting Ethiopia

The tale at the back of Africa’s unfinished struggle

You’ll get the most recent BBC information in Afaan Oromo, Amharic and Tigrinya.

I badly need to see my daughters once more and pour out what I’ve had in my center a lot of these years.

I have already began to seek for them, and hope to discover a residential cope with quickly.

Now I’m 58 years previous. I didn’t be expecting to be nonetheless alive, however I reside handiest to peer my daughters and spouse once more.

‘Starting a brand new existence’

Even now, in my desires, I see my kids. And when on Sunday I noticed Eritrean moms welcoming Mr Abiy in Eritrea’s capital Asmara, I noticed my daughters and my spouse within the faces of the ones moms and youngsters.

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@fitsumaregaa

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Eritreans got here out in huge numbers to welcome Ethiopia’s high minister

Now I need to move to Asmara, meet my previous buddies, and start a brand new existence.

I need to see my daughters dressed neatly. I want to contact their hair, wash their arms, scent their scent and spot them taking a look after me for I’m an previous guy.

If these days ever comes, I will be able to say I’m born once more.

And naturally, I will be able to take my son with me. He, too, needs to peer his sisters in any case those years of separation.

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