Thousands join Ethiopia-Eritrea peace run

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Competitors hold a banner with images of leaders as they gather to run the first Ethiopia-Eritrea Peace and reconciliation Run (10km) at Meskel Square in Addis Ababa on November 11, 2018. (AFP)
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A runner holds Eritrea’s national flag during the first Ethiopia-Eritrea Peace and reconciliation Run (10km) in Addis Ababa on November 11, 2018. (AFP)
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Runners hold Eritrea’s national flag during the first Ethiopia-Eritrea Peace and reconciliation Run (10km) in Addis Ababa on November 11, 2018. (AFP)
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Competitors react as they run during the first Ethiopia-Eritrea Peace and reconciliation Run (10km) in Addis Ababa on November 11, 2018. (AFP)
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Competitors run during the first Ethiopia-Eritrea Peace and reconciliation Run (10km) in Addis Ababa on November 11, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 11 November 2018

Thousands join Ethiopia-Eritrea peace run

ADDIS ABABA: Thousands of Ethiopians and Eritreans took part in a 10-kilometer reconciliation run Sunday in Addis Ababa in the first joint sporting event since the former bitter foes launched a rapid diplomatic thaw in July.
The peace run through the Ethiopian capital caught a new positive mood after years of “cold war.”
The two countries fought a war from 1998-2000 that left an estimated 80,000 people dead on both sides.
Reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took over in Addis Ababa in April and kicked off peace moves, agreeing to hand back disputed areas to Eritrea.
The neighbors have restored diplomatic ties, trade and phone links, resumed flights and re-opened their common borders.
Sunday was the first athletics event for the new friends and Ethiopian Mohammed Ahmed said he took time off work and trained hard for the “noble” race.
“I’m very happy, I don’t know how I can properly express my happiness to you, there is nothing more than love, reconciliation and happiness in this world,” he said.
Ethiopian police constable Chalachew Addis had personal reasons to attend after the borders were re-opened on September 11.
“With the opening of the border my brother has come back to Ethiopia after 20 years and met me,” said a beaming Chalachew.
“I’m running this race while wearing Eritrean flag, I feel happy this day has come,” he told AFP.
Nega Belay, former coach of Eritrean athletics star Zersenay Tadese and a representative of the Eritrean community in London was also celebrating.
“This is not a run of two people, but a run of one people, what differentiates them is minor or can be said to be non-existent, they are similar in every sense,” Nega told AFP.
He said he was holding discussions with Eritrean National Athletics Federation (ENAF) to stage a similar event in the Eritrean capital Asmara on January 1, 2019.
Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in the early 1990s and war broke out later that decade over a border dispute.
A 2002 UN-backed boundary demarcation was meant to settle the dispute, but Ethiopia refused to abide by it.


Greece moves more migrants to mainland as arrivals increase

Updated 19 min 46 sec ago

Greece moves more migrants to mainland as arrivals increase

  • Some 697 migrants and refugees arrived in the port of Elefsina near Athens from the island of Samos
  • Greece is struggling with the biggest resurgence in refugee and migrant flows across the Aegean Sea from Turkey since 2015

ATHENS: Authorities in Greece moved more asylum-seekers to the mainland on Tuesday as part of a strategy to reduce the refugee population on outlying islands after an increase in arrivals in recent months.

Some 697 migrants and refugees arrived in the port of Elefsina near Athens from the island of Samos, officials said. Earlier, 120 people arrived from Lesbos.

Greece is struggling with the biggest resurgence in refugee and migrant flows across the Aegean Sea from Turkey since 2015, when more than a million crossed into Europe, many of them via Greece.

The islands, which are closest to Turkey, have been struggling under the influx, with some 33,700 refugees and migrants in overcrowded camps, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

In late September, a woman died in a fire in a tent in a camp on Lesbos, while another fire in a severely overcrowded camp in Samos forced hundreds of people into the streets this month.

“Our focus was mainly on Samos because we want things there to calm down,” migration ministry secretary Manos Logothetis told Reuters.

More than 12,000 people arrived in Greece in September, the highest level in the three-and-a-half years since the EU agreed a deal with Turkey to seal the Aegean corridor to Europe.

Logothetis said up to 300 more people would be leaving Samos this week, and up to 2,000 from all outlying islands next week. Greece aims to move up to 20,000 off the islands by the end of the year, he said.

Athens has announced a stricter migration policy to deal with the crisis, including plans to deport 10,000 people who do not qualify for asylum by the end of next year.