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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Rally Calls for End to War Between Eritrea, Ethiopia

March 01, 2000

WESTWOOD — More than 100 members of the Eritrean community in L.A. rallied Tuesday, asking for international support of a peace process to halt a two-year war between their country and Ethiopia.

This is the third time since war broke out in 1998 that the local Eritrean community has gathered in front of the Federal Building on Wilshire Boulevard to advocate peace. Tuesday's rally, however, coincided with rallies in more than 50 cities worldwide, said Michael Abraham, spokesman for the local Eritrean community.

He said the purpose of the rally was to draw attention to a conflict Eritreans say has been largely ignored--although experts consider the war as devastating as those in Kosovo or East Timor.

The two nations have been fighting over their common border and a peace plan has been crafted by the Organization of African Unity. The plan is supported by the U.N., the United States and the European Union. Eritrea has accepted the peace plan, and Ethiopia has agreed with some provisions but declined to fully support it, according to a U.N. report.

No local Ethiopian community leaders were immediately available for comment Tuesday. The Ethiopian government, however, has accused Eritrea of initiating the conflict by invading its territory.

Several Eritreans at the rally said the warring countries are bound by a common culture and history. They called for an end to the war, which they said has included the mass deportation from Ethiopia.

"The pain is too much, I know what other people are feeling right now," said Adiam Abraham, an Eritrean who lived in Ethiopia and whose husband was deported after she applied for asylum in the U.S.

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