Gheralta Mountains: from attractive tourism destination to a raging battlefield (a rare footage).

Gheralta Mountains: from attractive tourism destination to a raging battlefield (a rare footage).

The majestic Gheralta mountains house beautiful rock-hewn churches which are of incalculable value for Tigrayans. Some estimate about 80 rock-hewn churches are found in these mountains. Among the famous ones are Abraha wa Atsbha,  Debre Tsion (Abune Abraham), Selassie Dugum, Debre maryam Korkor, Daniel Korkor and Abuna Yemata Guh.

An inside of Maryam Korkor rock-hewn church

Due to the relative peace of the last 30 years, the majesty of the mountains and the impressive rock-hewn churches that they house, the Gheralta mountains have, since two decades ago, been a tourist attraction and destination. Following the interest by tourists, the town of Hawzien saw a boom in hotels and investments catering for the tourists. In addition to the hotels in the town of Hawzien, there came several other lodges scattered around the foots of the mountains. A notable one is the Gheralta Lodge, owned and run by Italians, and rated as the number one lodge in Ethiopia by many rating websites. Another notable investment is Korkor Lodge, which is almost at the foot of the Imba (Mountain) Megab.

Exactly the area where these churches and the lodges are found has been now a raging battlefield. The footage below shows the smokes and sounds of guns from an active war.

According to a Tigray government statement from December 2, 2020, the invading army launched an offensive, supported with heavy artillery in the Hawzien – Megab road on 01 Decemeber 2020. We believe this footage is from some time between December 01 to December 04.

Footage of war in Gheralta mountains

The footage captures the area from Megab to Digum.

The war on Tigray has targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure, and cultural and religious sites. The sacred churches of Tigray housed in the Gheralta mountains are in danger from this war. While rare footages like this provide some glimpses, the total blockade and the communication blackout have made it almost impossible to obtain the correct extent of damage. Restoration of services and communication and access for humanitarian workers and journalists must be allowed. Following that, independent investigation into war crimes and the extent of damage needs to happen.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Zekre Lebona

    I see a stunning view! Look closer, however, and there is what looks like a patch of ground of fruit trees that inhabitants of the arid eastern Tigray were growing. I recall Abreha-Asebha village as a model village, for cultivating fruit trees as cash crops. In the brief border opening with Eritrea, some fruit from Tigray was marketed in Eritrean towns. I dread that these little groves may have been razed by the roving armies, and particularly the Eritrean army; I dread the aftermath of the food war policy of the same army; I dread the end of the coping mechanisms of the stalwart peasants of Gheralta, who carved out little plots of farming land, as they did with rock-hewn churches.

  2. Hailay Megab

    Thank you Tghat !!
    I my self can be a witnessed the Situations .
    The invader from Eritrea and ENDF deliberately attacked and targeted the Churches in the Mountain of Gheralta .
    Now tourism is stopped especially touring
    many tour guide officer in the areas are in a very bad conditions due war in Tigray.

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