Roses, Champagne Given To Passengers On Historic 'Bird Of Peace' Flight From Ethiopia To Eritrea
This has been 20 years in the making.
It's been a long time coming.
Ethiopian Airlines made its first trip to Eritrea on Wednesday, July 18, after a 20-year border war over disputed land. The BBC reports families divided because of the war will reunite since 1998 when the war officially started and prohibited road and air travel between the two nations.
"It's a golden moment for the two countries and the two people," Former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who was one of many on the historic flight, said.
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News reports estimate 450 people were on the first flight to Eritrea's capital city, Asmara. The demand was so high for that the airlines flew another plane to Asmara within 15 minutes of the first.
"I'm going back to the place where I grew up. I'm really happy," flight captain Yosef Hailu told the BBC.
The conflict between the two nations dates back to the 1993 secession of Eritrea from Ethiopia. Five years later, the new country and Ethiopia declared war, resulting in a bloody conflict claiming the lives of 80,000 people. United Nations-backed Eritrea claimed the town of Badme, but Ethiopia refused to relent, forcing the clash to last as long as it has.
Peace talks between the two countries made this possible. For almost a month now, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki have talked about ending the decades-long conflict. They signed a joint declaration of peace on Sunday, July 8, in Asmara, bringing an end to one of East Africa's most massive refugee crises.
It is a new day with new possibilities.
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