Day 44 of war on Tigray: Humanitarian condition, doctors’ testimonies, Egypt
Today’s situation report from Europe External Programme with Africa indicates, among many other things:
- Heavy shelling is continuing in many villages in Tigray.
- A Catholic bishop and several nuns and other missionary members, based in Adigrat, are missing.
- In Tembien, Adi Qeweylo, Tigray, nine priests were killed by Federal Ethiopian and Eritrean troops.
- Report that Al-Njesahi Mosque of Negash (Tigray) is looted; the oldest Muslim settlement in Africa.
Humanitarian condition in Tigray
Tigray, an impoverished region of about six million people, faced formidable food security challenges before the conflict began, compounded this year by the coronavirus pandemic and the worst desert locust infestation in decades. Now aid agencies fear the fighting — which has reportedly killed thousands and displaced many thousands more — could tip the region into catastrophe. Some residents of southern Tigray told AFP that they were growing desperate, begging from neighbours and serving their children boiled water just to get something warm in their stomachs. The hardship could last long after the guns are silenced, especially if farmers see an entire season of grain wiped out.
Some international aid is getting into Tigray. The UN said late Wednesday that 18 trucks bearing 570 tonnes of food had finally reached Tigray, although it was still awaiting “unhindered and full humanitarian access”. In the Tigray town of Alamata, officials last Friday distributed 50-kilogramme (110-pound) sacks of wheat — branded with the Ethiopian flag — to hundreds of residents who queued outside a warehouse, some using umbrellas to block the sun. Yet in towns and villages throughout southern Tigray, residents said what little aid they have seen is not nearly enough.
The UN has released US$35.6 million emergency funding for civilians caught up in Tigray conflict. In Ethiopia, the funds will help health facilities get medicines, gloves and other supplies to care for the sick and injured, and fund nutrition, drinking water and shelter. In Sudan, the funding will prioritize life-saving assistance to refugees, including shelter, health care and drinking water. Women, children, older people and disabled people will be prioritized as the funding is disbursed.
“After six weeks of conflict, the civilian toll is mounting. Women and children arrive in Sudan with disturbing stories of violence, deprivation and abuse. Many have not made it out. Conflicts like this are hard to stop once they get out of control, the lives they extinguish cannot be brought back, and the grievances they create are long lasting. Right now, children are cut off from help. We need unfettered access now.” Mark Lowcock
Testimonies of doctors who fled militia attacks
Dr Tewedros’ testimony
There was heavy shelling. It targeted every part of Humera – market places, around the church and mosque areas and even the vicinity of the hospital compound. On day one I know we received around 15 dead bodies and 75 wounded civilians. The shelling continued the whole afternoon. We received eight bodies, and more injured people. We then decided it was not safe for our patients or for us. We decided to leave. We took our wounded patients on a tractor lorry and we got to Adebay, a place about 30km [18 miles] from Humera. There was no shelling there but fighting was going on. On the first day, we were treating them for injuries caused by the shelling, but after the government troops arrived in Humera, civilians started coming with stick marks and sharp wounds – bigger than those caused by knives.
They also said the pro-government Amhara special forces, in uniforms and with badges on their chest, and the “fanos”, who are militias with no uniforms, had arrived in Humera.
In different parts of western Tigray, the following happened:
- First there was shelling
- Then the government soldiers came
- And following in their footsteps were the Amhara special forces and the fanos.
I am now at the refugee camp, I am still treating patients. I’ve got patients from different parts of Tigray – even as far as 300km from the border. People walked, seeing many dead civilians on the way. I have patients who say they saw Eritrean forces in Tigray who committed atrocities, burning houses and destroying farmland. All this has happened under a dark shroud, when the internet was shut, electricity cut, and the banking system closed. No-one knows what is really happening deep inside Tigray.
Anonymous doctor’s testimony
In the morning, we started working in the clinic in Adebay. We had 10 patients who came all the way from Humera. There was a mother who was brought by her son. She had injuries to her abdomen. She was bleeding. Her intestine was hanging from her stomach. Her son was strong, bringing her from Humera in a motorbike. I do not know whether she is still alive. I could only give her basic first aid. The Ethiopian military was now also shooting at civilians in Adebay. We were forced to go and hide in a place near Adebay, but we used to come in the evening to treat patients in the clinic.
When we got there [Hamdayet], I saw a young man with injuries to his head and his hand cut off. He told me he was from Mai-Kadra. I gave him medicine for five days. I have seen many people here – all Tigrayans – with serious injuries sustained during attacks in Mai-Kadra. But I lacked medical equipment to treat them. It pains me when I think of the patients back home – some of them needed oxygen every day, others needed to be treated for gunshot wounds. Imagine, they have been left to die. It makes me feel guilty. It makes me feel depressed.
Egypt expresses condolences to Sudan
Egypt has offered its condolences to Sudan over the victims of the attack carried out by “Ethiopian forces and militias” against the Sudanese armed forces in the Al-Qadarif province, along the border with Ethiopia. Egypt expressed its “full” solidarity with Sudan and its right to defend its security and exercise sovereignty over its territories, stressing its rejection of such attacks, which it described as “unjustified.” Egypt is following with concern the recent “dangerous” field developments and its impacts on the security situation in the region, urging the adoption of all necessary measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents, the statement added.