The Documentary Podcast
Ethiopia and Eritrea: Rebirth at the border
Monday, 30 March
In September 2018, the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea was opened for the first time in 20 years. Physical travel between the two countries and even telephone communication had been next to impossible, separating families and devastating businesses in borderland towns such as Zalambessa in Ethiopia. The communities on either side have had the opportunity to reconnect, rebuild and move on with their lives. The town is undergoing a transformation. Now, family events and religious ceremonies are celebrated with renewed joy as relatives come together to mark life’s milestones. In this programme, we immerse ourselves in the baptism of a new baby boy, born to first-time parents, and find out if their Eritrean relatives are able to cross the border to join the celebrations as they hope. But there’s a twist. While informal cross border movement continues on foot, the official border checkpoint in the town is closed again for trade and vehicles due to political uncertainty. There’s a construction boom in the region because of the optimism that once prevailed, but for many, their hope has been replaced by despair as business is stagnating once again. This is a programme about how lives are changing in all kinds of ways, and about the hope people hold on to for a better future. We share in both joy and frustration; a conflicted situation that remains to be resolved.