Briefing Paper

Containing the Volatile Sudan-Ethiopia Border Dispute

Ethiopia and Sudan are locked in a dangerous standoff over al-Fashaga, a swathe of fertile borderland from which Khartoum evicted thousands of Ethiopian farmers in December 2020. Clashes between the two countries’ troops have claimed dozens of combatant and civilian lives. Fragile political transitions in both countries are at risk if the dispute boils over. Neither side seeks war, but hostilities could escalate due to accident or miscalculation. A wider conflict could draw in regional allies and further destabilise the Horn of Africa. Addis Ababa and Khartoum should immediately freeze military deployments to the border area. External partners should urge the two countries to find a land-use compromise similar to a past soft border arrangement for al-Fashaga without linking this issue to other contentious matters.