• The war, fought over the exact location of the boundary between Ethiopia and Eritrea, began in May 1998 and left tens of thousands of people dead.
  • The reopening coincides with the Ethiopian New Year, adding to the festive atmosphere.
  • Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias led the celebrations to mark the reopening.

It was tears of joy, hugs, kisses and more hugs after relatives who had not seen each other for more than 20 years were finally able to reunite following re-opening of a border.

Hundreds of people from Ethiopia and Eritrea have been celebrating the reopening of a border crossing at Bure, a region that saw some of the fiercest fightings during the 1998-2000 war, after more than 2o years since the border was shut. Nearly 80,000 people died during the conflict.

The reopening coincides with the Ethiopian New Year, adding to the festive atmosphere.

"This is the happiest day of my life. I never thought this would take place in my lifetime," Reuters news agency quotes Eritrean Ruta Haddis as saying.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias led the celebrations to mark the reopening and announced Ethiopian and Eritrean troops will celebrate New Year together.

“PM Abiy Ahmed and President Isaias Afwerki are visiting Bure Front along Ethio-Eritrea border to celebrate the New Year with members of the Ethiopian & Eritrean Defence Forces following the full normalization of the relations between the two countries. #Ethiopia #Eritrea,” Fitsum Arega, Abiy’s Chief of Staff, said on Twitter.

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Prime Minister Abiy also announced that its troops would start withdrawing from the border area.

Eritrea won independence from Ethiopia in 1991 but members of the same family continued to live on both sides of the border as the two countries enjoyed good relations until 1998.

It ended in 2000 after the signing of the Algiers agreement but peace was never fully restored since Ethiopia refused to implement a ruling by a border commission established by the agreement.

The reopening of the border, however, goes beyond reuniting thousands of families; the border is also a key economic entry point.

The reopening at Burre gives landlocked Ethiopia access to the sea. Another border post, near the Ethiopian town of Zalambessa, also reopened.

The crossing at Zalambessa is on the main trade route linking the capital of Ethiopia's northern Tigray region with Eritrea's capital, Asmara.

Its closure damaged trade, and consequently, the economy in the border region suffered.

The reopening of the border at Burre should allow Ethiopia to access Eritrea's southern port of Assab.

These are the latest moves in the rapprochement between the ex-enemies.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki signed a peace deal in July, restoring diplomatic and trade relations between the nations.

Since then, phone calls and flights between the two countries resumed and last week a ship registered in Ethiopia arrived in an Eritrean port.

The two countries have also reopened their embassies in each other’s' capital cities.