Tensions over the long-running feud over the disputed al-Fashqa region come amid a new stalemate in a three-way dispute over the mega-dam.
Ethiopia has accused Sudanese forces of pushing further into a disputed border region which has been the scene of deadly clashes in recent weeks, warning that its “peaceful” approach to the dispute “has its limits”.
Sharing a 1,600 km (994 mile) border, the two neighboring countries have long been fighting over the al-Fashqa region, where Ethiopian farmers cultivate fertile land claimed by Sudan.
Border tensions come as Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt are also trying to resolve a three-way dispute over the controversial dam Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile known as the Great Renaissance Dam. Ethiopian (GERD).
“The Sudanese side seems to be pushing to ignite the situation on the ground,” Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Dina Mufti told reporters on Tuesday. “Is Ethiopia going to start a war? Well, we say let’s work on diplomacy.
“How long will Ethiopia continue to solve the problem through diplomacy?” Well, there is nothing that has no limit. Everything has a limit, ”he said during a press briefing in the capital, Addis Ababa.
Spokesperson for @mfaethiopie, HE Amb.@mufti_dina, today gave the media a bimonthly press briefing from the ministry. #Ethiopia–#Sudan border problem,#GERD, diplomatic activities of missions and collaboration with citizens #Europe are covered, among others. https://t.co/WFZaslns1B pic.twitter.com/MPt6FDnllN
– MFA Ethiopia🇪🇹 (@mfaethiopia) January 12, 2021
In early December, Sudan accused Ethiopian “forces and militias” of ambushing Sudanese troops along the border, killing four and injuring more than 20.
Ethiopia, for its part, said last week that the Sudanese army had “organized attacks using heavy machine guns” and that “many civilians were murdered and injured”.
Sudanese Information Minister and government spokesman Feisal Mohamed Saleh said the country did not want war with Ethiopia but that its forces would respond to any aggression.
“We are concerned that these comments contain a hostile position towards Sudan. We call on Ethiopia to stop attacking Sudanese territory and Sudanese farmers, ”he told Reuters news agency.
Sudan declared on December 31 that it had taken control of all Sudanese territory in the region. Ethiopia says Sudan has taken advantage of the distraction of its forces by the conflict in Tigray in northern Ethiopia to occupy Ethiopian land and loot property.
The United Nations said in a report last week on the humanitarian situation in Tigray that there had been reports of military build-up on both sides of the border around the region.
The Tigray conflict has pushed tens of thousands of Ethiopian refugees to enter Sudan.
Separately, Ethiopia and Egypt said on Sunday they had reached a new stalemate in the GERD dispute. Egypt and Ethiopia separately blamed Sudanese objections to the framework of the talks.
Ethiopia sees the dam as key to the project to become Africa’s largest electricity exporter.
Egypt, which derives more than 90% of its scarcity from fresh water from the Nile, fears the Blue Nile dam could devastate its economy.
Sudan is concerned that the project will affect its own dams, although it may benefit from access to possible cheap electricity.
Ethiopian Dina criticized Egypt and Sudan on Tuesday for delaying negotiations. “Do both speak the same language? More or less. Both speak the same language when it comes to blocking it.