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Day 47 of war on Tigray: ‘how we survived shelling in Mekelle’, ‘I miss home’



‘How we survivied when Mekelle was shelled’

A son orphaned, a daughter lying in a coma, an elderly woman killed – these are just some of the casualties reported by a doctor and other survivors of the bombardment of Mekelle.

Landlord in Ayder district:

Heavy artillery fire destroyed four homes in my compound. In one family, only a boy survived. His father, mother and two sisters died on the spot. Their bodies were destroyed, almost to pieces. For six years, they were my tenants. In the compound, three other women were wounded. Two of them are still in hospital. My wife was also injured. I was wounded on the chest.

A young mother-of-two in Hawelti district:

Some of the artillery was passing over our home. We were scared. The children were crying. One of the shells destroyed a house in the area. It killed an elderly lady and wounded her daughter very badly. She is still in a coma.

Doctor at Ayder Referral Hospital

I myself counted the bodies of 22 people brought to the hospital – seven in the morning and 15 in the evening. They were all civilians. Some of the bodies could not be recognised. There was a girl who was about 10 years old and a woman who was about 70. We received more than 70 wounded, including an 18-month-old child. There was an air strike that hit one of the campuses of Mekelle University. We treated 22 wounded students. Unfortunately, one of them died. A mother and her seven-year-old daughter were also killed in another air strike in the Enderta area. The mother died on the spot. Her daughter was brought to the hospital with head injuries, and one of her eyes had been destroyed. We tried our best to save her life but she did not survive.

It is to be recalled that Abiy Ahmed told the federal parliament that the military had not killed a single civilian during the operation.

I Miss Home

Nearly a third of the more than 51,000 Tigrayan refugees who have fled to Sudan are children. At least 361 of them walked unaccompanied. Many of them were separated from their families as they bolted from their homes in the middle of the night, trekking hours and days with nothing but the clothes on their backs to reach safety. “It is quite heartbreaking. For an emergency that is relatively small in numbers, I have hardly seen such a high level of people separated from their families, many children separated.” Filippo Grandi

Ashenafi Mulugeta, 8: “Living here is the best because in our small village, there’s war. I am happy to be here.”

The conflict has killed countless civilians and precipitated a humanitarian and geopolitical crisis. The refugees who have poured into Sudan described encountering violent militias and dead bodies along the way.

Daniel Yemane, 12: “I miss home.” He crossed alone into Sudan in the Hamdayet area after getting separated from his parents. He longed to see his two younger sisters. On his way to the border, he said he saw bodies of dead people. “With my own eyes,” he said, pointing at them. “If things go the way they are, I will never go back.”

Ataklti Aregawi, 17: “In our life, we have never seen bad actions like this. Abiy doesn’t like us. He doesn’t like us staying in Tigray. I was not afraid. I was not. One hundred percent.” But when he bumped into friends from home at the camp, he said, “I was sobbing. I wish I could go back,” he said, eyes downcast. “I miss home.”

Mr. Berhanu Kiros, 30: “This was my first experience of war. We came from a nation of dignity and pride, and now we are here, begging with our children. The country has collapsed. It’s heartbreaking.” He was in Humera with Ms. Enkubahri, 24, had just delivered their first children: twins. She was in the hospital when the shelling of the town began. As they fled Humera, Mr. Berhanu feared for his wife’s health, as she kept bleeding.

Azeb Gebrekristos, 7: “I want to know ABC so that I can speak English.” When she grows up, she wants to be a pilot.

Is Ethiopia this generation’s Rwanda?

The same volatile mix of ingredients that led to ethnic cleansing in Rwanda are rapidly emerging in Tigray. As in Rwanda, there has been an abrupt power shift in Ethiopia along ethnic lines after decades of political stagnation. The international community is so far sitting on its hands even as non-governmental organizations document slaughter and atrocities.

Ethiopia claims that the war is over, but reports on the ground show that fighting continues in and around cities in Tigray.

Representatives of the UN recently told AFP that humanitarian aid intended for the 96,000 Eritrean refugees and other needy parties in Tigray is still held up. Ethiopian guarantees of access are not viable under the current conditions. In other words, the Western world is standing by with assistance. But we cannot stand by and watch.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, elected in 2018, is the first national leader from outside the Tigray ethnic group since the 1980s.

Three people were killed and five injured when an abandoned bomb exploded in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on Sunday. The explosion occurred amid a six-week conflict in Tigray region between federal forces and a rebellious force there, but there was no indication it was linked to that. There have been several small bomb explosions in Addis Ababa since Abiy Ahmed launched an offensive against TPLF. Federal police have blamed some of the explosions on TPLF, but have not provided evidence to back up their claims.

Sudan and Ethiopia will negotiate on Tuesday to delineate their shared border, a statement from Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s office said Sunday. The two leaders met on the margins of a summit underway Sunday in Djibouti of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African regional bloc comprising eight countries.

Situation Report EEPA HORN No. 31 – 20 December

  • Egypt is reportedly encouraging Sudan to support the TPLF in Tigray.
  • Eritrean soldiers were in Mekelle (Tigray), according to a resident and two diplomats receiving information from the ground.

Amare is an economist from Tigray. He is interested in behavioral economics, psychology, philosophy and politics.

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