Several thousand families who were forced to abandon their homes during the 1998-2000 war between Eritrea and Ethiopia have returned to their home villages, the Eritrean government said.
According to a statement, more than 3,400 families returned to the Gash-Barka region, including 2,000 returnees from Golij, Tebeldiya, Gergef, Sabunait, Tessenei and other areas, who had been resettled in Omhajer, Ayterf and its surroundings.
Another 928 families from the Adi-Baare makeshift camp in Shambuko sub-zone returned to Binbina, Adi-Maelel and Tologumja, while 498 families had returned to Anagulu, Barentu sub-zone. One thousand others, originally from the Gerset area, had also been resettled, the statement added.
Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a two-year border war beginning in 1998, in which both sides lost tens of thousands of people. The Algiers peace agreement - signed in December 2000 - ended the war, and an independent boundary commission ruled on the border demarcation in April 2002.
Ethiopia initially refused to accept the decision, which granted Eritrea the town of Badme, where the war started. Eventually Ethiopia said it would accept the decision 'in principle' but relations between the two neighbours have remained strained.
United Nations peacekeepers patrol the tense border, but their operations have been hampered by restrictions imposed by Eritrea, including a ban on the helicopter flights over its territory.