Kenyan and Ethiopian officials have refused to be drawn into ethnic disputes between Borana and Gabbra communities.
The administrators and security agencies from both countries said they will not allow the constant feuds between the groups to lead to a bilateral standoff.
Ties between Kenya and Ethiopia have many a times been strained over a row about cattle rustling and insurgent groups.
The officials made the remarks in Saru, North Horr Sub-County along the Ethiopia-Kenya border during a peace meeting on Saturday.
Dilo District Commissioner Guyo Huqa and his Tar Tar counterpart Jattani Godana took part in the talks brokered by the Community Initiative Facilitation and Assistance (CIFA-Kenya) – an initiative funded by the African Union (AU) and the German government (GIZ).
“It’s crucial that we too need to rise and act effectively to broker lasting peace between the feuding communities,” said Huqa.
According to Huqa, the commitment of Kenya and Ethiopia to resolve long-standing disputes between the Gabbra and Borana communities along the Ethiopia-Kenya border is based on respecting historical facts and the international law.
Huqa told the residents to uphold the responsibility to protect populations at risk, warning that failure of individual states and the international community could lead to tragedy.
On his part, Tar Tar District Warada Jattani Godana said that the borderlines such as Forole, Dukana, Dilo, Tar Tar regions were “undisputable parts” where both nations could build infrastructure, deploy defensive capabilities, and conduct patrols.
Godana expressed shock that the Gabbra and Borana communities, which speak a similar dialect and had common ancestries, were turned against each other by people with selfish interests.
According to the official, criminals should be treated independently and dealt with according to the law instead of blanket condemnations that have been the norm whenever violence erupts, adding that not all Gabbras or Boranas are enemies of peace, but a few individuals gaining from the wars between them.
The duo promised to work with the Kenyan authorities to stem crime along the border and bring long lasting peace, noting that the root cause of killings along the Kenya- Ethiopia border was cattle rustling which is orchestrated by a few individuals from the two communities.
Ethiopian officials said they will no longer allow stolen cattle from Kenya to be sneaked into their country, and also asked Kenyan authorities to do the same for the sake of brokering lasting peace.
Dukana Sub-County District County Commissioner Solomon Mwapapale, however, praised the goodwill of the Ethiopian authorities in helping to fight the endemic ethnic atrocities between the two communities.
“We’re delighted by the bilateral relations we enjoy with Ethiopia and will not allow petty livestock thefts and felonies,” said Mwapapale, adding that the atrocities have in many occasions threatened to strain the bilateral relations between Ethiopia and Kenya.
Mwapapale cited a recent incident when Ethiopian authorities bashed Kenya for harboring fighters from the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) who are said to have crossed into Kenya after committing crimes back in Ethiopia.
The Kenyan administrator explained that the two countries were considering opening all the border points but after only ensuring that no illegal goods would get smuggled in and out of the two countries.
Border Patrol Unit (BPU) Inspector Peter Logole urged the communities living on the border to cease pushing security officers from both countries into a fight.
Some of the delegates expressed concern about the manipulation of youths and women by some local leaders and politicians to perpetrate ethnic atrocities between the two communities.
The latest outburst of hostilities between Ethiopian and Kenyan forces was witnessed in December 2020 when nine Kenyans from Butiye area were arrested and detained by the Ethiopian Federal Police for allegedly harboring OLF fighters.