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(CNN) People in Ethiopia are calling strangers in Eritrea as phone lines are opened after 20 years

Posted by: Biniam Tekle

Date: Wednesday, 11 July 2018

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/10/africa/ethiopia-eritrea-phone-lines-open/index.html
Frehiwot Negash picked up the phone and called a random number. She was trying to test if indeed she could now phone Eritrea after 20 long years of being cut off from her neighboring country.
www.cnn.com


People in Ethiopia are calling strangers in Eritrea as phone lines are opened after 20 years

Bukola Adebayo, CNN

Updated 5:26 PM ET, Tue July 10, 2018

In this grab taken from video provided by ERITV, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, background centre is welcomed by Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki as he disembarks the plane, in Asmara, Eritrea, Sunday, July 8, 2018.
In this grab taken from video provided by ERITV, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, background centre is welcomed by Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki as he disembarks the plane, in Asmara, Eritrea, Sunday, July 8, 2018.

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN)Frehiwot Negash picked up the phone and called a random number.

The Ethiopian finance manager was trying to test if indeed she could now place a call to Eritrea after 20 long years of being cut off from the neighboring country in the aftermath of a bloody border war.
The person on the other line answered. It was a hotel.
Negash, 33, told CNN: "The receptionist picked up. So I said 'I'm calling from Ethiopia.' Then I passed the congratulations message to her, and I told her that I am very happy and she also said 'I am happy too."
Negash says she now plans to visit Eritrea later this year.
After it was announced on Monday that phone lines would be restored between both countries, Ethiopia's telecoms company, Ethios, sent text messages to its 57 million subscribers, saying they could now call Eritrea.
Negash was one of the people who quickly picked their phones to check if it was true. She and others in Ethiopia spent the day placing calls to friends and long-lost family members in Eritrea.
And the occasional stranger too.
"Oh gosh, I am so excited over this EthioEritrea thingy, I just called on a random number in Asmara and had a nice chat with a lady named Frtuna and she speaks Amharic," Twitter user Henok Karvonen posted.
It has been 20 years since a war led to a shutdown of communication between the two countries.
But a diplomatic breakthrough was reached this week following a two-day summit between Ethiopia's new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, 41, and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, 71, in Eritrea's capital, Asmara.
The two leaders delighted their citizens after declaring an end to the war between both nations on Monday.
They took to the streets waving flags and cheered as the two leaders embraced after signing a joint declaration that signaled the end of the war, which was fought from 1998 to 2000 and killed at least 70,000.
It's not just the phone lines that have been restored between both countries. Diplomatic relations are now re-established as both countries agreed to reopen their embassies and ports.
Ethiopian Airlines, one of Africa's most successful aviation companies, will now commence flights to Eritrea.
While Prime Minister Abiy has also asked for the UN to lift sanctions against Eritrea.
The UN Security Council sanctioned Eritrea in 2009 for its alleged ties with Somalia extremist groups.
Abiy handed over a request letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday to end the 10-year sanction after his visit to Eritrea, local media reported.
The landmark trip follows an announcement in June by Ethiopia's ruling party that it planned to fully implement the peace deal reached with Eritrea in 2000 known as the Algiers Agreement, including a key ruling on borders from 2003 that Ethiopia initially rejected.


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