Ethiopia and Eritrea have declared peace after nearly 20 years of “no war, no peace” between the two countries, according to reports from the BBC. Previously, a peace treaty which was supposed to end hostilities between the nations after border conflicts from 1998-2000 was never actually implemented. As a result, the two countries have been having tense relations ever since.

Ethiopian journalist Sishay Wores was finally able to be contacted by his sister who is living in Eritrea as a result of the agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea to renew a diplomatic relationship. Wores tells the BBC, “For a moment my heart stopped beating, my voice was shaking and I was struggling for words. It took me a while to calm down and talk to my sister.”

A summit was held at the capital city of Eritrea, Asmara, which marked the first time that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki had met, and the first time any head of state of either country had met in 20 years.

After Ahmed took power about three months ago, he indicated that he wanted to change the situation between the two countries, and freed Eritrean political prisoners as a show of goodwill.

For the past 20 years, families divided by the border between the two countries have been unable to phone or even visit, but there are now reports that flights could be restored between Ethiopia and Eritrea as early as next week.

While this occasion is a first step towards peace, some residents of the countries remain vigilant, even as they hope for lasting peace. As Eritrean resident Ms Mela tells the BBC, [there is still a] “long way to go to achieve lasting peace.”