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Ethiopia apologises after Dubai marathon fans 'erase Eritrea' from map


Sunday January 27, 2019

The Ethiopian embassy in the UK has apologised for posting a picture of fans holding up an “erroneous” map of the country, that included Eritrea as part of Ethiopia, at Dubai Marathon.

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Thousands of fans attended the marathon on Friday to cheer on athletes and among them was a large group of Ethiopian residents, who celebrated fiercely when Getaneh Tamire Molla set a record for in the men’s race.

They waved flags and pictures of the prime minister, and one held up a cut out of a map of Ethiopia that included Eritrea in the north. A photo of the crowd, and that map, was shared by the Ethiopian embassy in the UK.

The post was met with outrage from Eritreans with a Twitter user describing the image as a “deliberate and failed attempt to test our nationalism.”

Writing on Facebook, another said: “Use the correct maps. We paid [a] heavy price, thousand[s] of martyrs for our independence and we are ready to do it again.

“Ethiopians should understand that and it’s a red line to us. Use the correct map Ethiopians.”

On Saturday, the Ethiopian Embassy UK apologised for the post, which it said was a “genuine mistake”.

Ethiopia apologises after Dubai marathon fans 'erase Eritrea' from map

The 'erroneous' map’s borders included Eritrea, a country which became legally independent in 1993
Ethiopia fans at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon 2019.
Ethiopia fans at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon 2019.

The Ethiopian embassy in the UK has apologised for posting a picture of fans holding up an “erroneous” map of the country, that included Eritrea as part of Ethiopia, at Dubai Marathon.

Thousands of fans attended the marathon on Friday to cheer on athletes and among them was a large group of Ethiopian residents, who celebrated fiercely when Getaneh Tamire Molla set a record for in the men’s race.

They waved flags and pictures of the prime minister, and one held up a cut out of a map of Ethiopia that included Eritrea in the north. A photo of the crowd, and that map, was shared by the Ethiopian embassy in the UK.

The post was met with outrage from Eritreans with a Twitter user describing the image as a “deliberate and failed attempt to test our nationalism.”

Writing on Facebook, another said: “Use the correct maps. We paid [a] heavy price, thousand[s] of martyrs for our independence and we are ready to do it again.

“Ethiopians should understand that and it’s a red line to us. Use the correct map Ethiopians.”

On Saturday, the Ethiopian Embassy UK apologised for the post, which it said was a “genuine mistake”.

“We realise that this post has caused offence and have subsequently taken it down. It was a genuine mistake and we regret its posting and any offence it inadvertently caused.”

In a statement on Twitter, the embassy said: “A photo was published by the Embassy on social media on Friday, showing Ethiopian fans supporting athletes competing at the Dubai Marathon. The picture depicted fans holding up an erroneous map of Ethiopia.

“We realise that this post has caused offence and have subsequently taken it down. It was a genuine mistake and we regret its posting and any offence it inadvertently caused.
“We deeply apologise to all and have already taken measures to ensure that this does not happen again in future.”

Although the separation was initially amicable, tensions flared in 1998 when both countries claimed a border town, sparking a conflict which claimed around 100,000 lives. The town was later awarded to Eritrea by a United Nations-appointed independent commission, but the bad feelings persisted, leading to occasional flare ups at the border. Eritrea became legally independent from Ethiopia in 1993, after a 30-year battle that followed the country’s annexation from Ethiopia in the 1960s.

That changed last April, when a new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, took office, signalling his wish for better relations with Eritrea. He later said Ethiopia would accept the boundary decision, which led to a formal end of the decades-long conflict last July.

Mr Ahmed and the Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki were honoured with the UAE’s highest civil honour in July when the former rivals met in Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, conferred the Order of Zayed on both leaders at the Presidential Palace in the capital.



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