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“Out of Control”, An Eyewitness on Abiy Addi IDP camp in Tigray



The following is an eyewitness description of the situation in the IDP camp in Abiyi Addi IDP camp as professor Jan Nyssen of Ghent University wrote it.

A friend in Abiy Addi had the opportunity to enter into the Abiy Addi IDP camp and to speak with the people; he has sent me this eyewitness report on 4 July.

It is very painful  to visit the Abiy Addi IDP center. People came running to me expecting I am far better off than them, since they see that at least that I manage to survive.

Among the roughly 53k IDPs, 841 are disabled and suffer from food shortage. 26 IDPs died so far. There are also unaccompanied children suffering.

A tallying by the Abiy Addi health center indicates that 676 people are on the verge of dying at the IDP camp.

There are 2200 survivors of conflict related sexual violence (CRSV) in the camp, out of them 500 do not receive any help. Several of them have chronic diseases.

There are 891 women in critical condition in the camp.

The IDP center is in a TVET (technical school), but there is no room for everybody. More than 4000 individuals are without shelter.

Generally, the people in the IDP center have made up their mind that they are just waiting for death by tomorrow or after tomorrow.

Most of the IDPs are from the Western zone of Tigray, particularly Humera and Maykadra.

The IDPs had a hope of returning home when the Cessation of Hostilities was announced last November; but now, 2.5 years after they were expelled from their place, they realise that there will be no returning home but that they will rather die here. They go begging everywhere in town, but they get very little support from the host community as these people also do not have income and there is no more food aid for them either. Since all these years, people have not bought any clothes. Many are naked, children walk on bare feet. There is also no education for the children in the IDP center.

The IDPs need food support, they need to return home. Formally, a protection committee for the IDPs has been set up in Abiy Addi.

Several international NGOs are present, but with small means. They assist a few thousand households with flour, oil and salt. They provide clean water and organise the cleaning of the environment by volunteers. 670 women have received dignity kits. Some GBV survivors receive cash support, and training to protect themselves.

My overall impression is that the situation in the Abiy Addi IDP center is out of control – literally from Tigrinya: “beyond capacity to manage”.

Professor Jan Nysssen adds:

Numerous people in the Abiy Addi internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in central Tigray (about 100 kilometres west of Mekelle as the crow flies) have sadly perished due to problems connected to hunger. These IDP camps serve as a vivid reminder of the terrible conditions that continue to plague the population of Tigray, with hundreds of thousands of people seeking safety within its borders. Late 2020 and early 2021 saw the majority of the IDPs ejected from Western Tigray by military forces of the Amhara region that still occupy Tigray’s western zone.

Food aid has been suspended by WFP and USAID because of widespread theft organised at the highest level in Ethiopia. We wrote an opinion article regarding this suspension of food aid with André Crismer and published it in the Belgian daily “La Libre”: Food aid has been halted in Tigray, which is still suffering from starvation.

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