A new point of entry on the Ethiopia-Djibouti border has been opened close to the town of Balho at the Northern border to Djibouti on 20th September. It is the third official entry point between both countries in addition to the border posts in Galafi at the Western border to Djibouti and in Dewele in the Southwest. ‘The establishment of the Balho border crossing has two main meanings: combating human trafficking and smuggling along the eastern migration route and improving economic relations between Ethiopia and Djibouti’, Mr. Tamiru Genbeto, Deputy Director General of the Ethiopian Immigration, Nationality and Vital Events Agency (INVEA) said during the inauguration.
This post will also implement the necessary inspections in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and has the necessary protective equipment to fulfill this task.
The new border point will address the lack of cross-border infrastructure, increase trade, and create employment opportunities. For example, it will create new immigration and customs jobs, foster the development of new local markets, boost the logistics and restaurant sector in the area.
It will also serve to facilitate safe, orderly, and regular migration while addressing human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants. Balho is located on the Eastern migration route from the Horn of Africa to the countries of the Gulf with Djibouti as the main transit country. According to estimates by IOM, approximately 100,000 people arrive in Djibouti annually. On the other side, Ethiopia is one of the largest sources of migrants in Africa (871,000 in 2019, UN). Out of necessity not by choice, many migrants travel irregularly, that is, without a visa or valid papers.
Cross-border cooperation agreed
The governments of Ethiopia and Djibouti agreed on close cross-border cooperation regarding regular and irregular migration. Both countries face serious challenges from trafficking and smuggling of migrants, due to the extensive and entrenched criminal networks along the route. Women, girls, boys, and men are vulnerable to the exploitation that is part of the various forms of both domestic and international trafficking. Even if they escape or have crossed the border, these migrants are often dehydrated, injured, or infected, as well as being abused by the traffickers and traumatised. A lack of infrastructure in border areas also means a lack of assistance and support for victims of trafficking, especially vulnerable migrants such as women and children, who are frequently stranded or left behind by traffickers. Victims of trafficking and other vulnerable migrants identified by officials at the new border post in Balho will be referred to appropriate service providers and trafficking claims will be investigated.
Further point of entry to Kenya planned
In October 2020, an additional point of entry in Suftu between Ethiopia and Kenya will be opened. In addition to the border post in Moyale, it will be only the second official entry point along the 850 km long border between the two countries. INVEA together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and their counterparts in Kenya agreed to set-up of further official crossing points in the future as part of a close cooperation to manage migration.
The EU and Germany support the establishment of the new border points in Balho and Suftu through the Better Migration Management (BMM) programme. BMM provided needed equipment and facilitated the operationalisation of the point of entries. The overall objective of the programme is that national authorities and institutions are able to facilitate safe, orderly, and regular migration and effectively address and reduce trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants within and from the Horn of Africa region by applying a human rights-based approach.
- Publication date
- 21 September 2020
- Region and Country
- Horn of AfricaEthiopiaDjibouti
- Improved migration management