Escape from massacre: Ethiopians recall Tigray conflict horror

Escape from massacre: Ethiopians recall Tigray conflict horror

Escape from massacre: Ethiopians recall Tigray conflict horror An Ethiopian refugee who fled fighting in Tigray province sits holding a child in a hut at Um Raquba camp in Sudan’s eastern Gedaref province on November 16, 2020

(–For Ethiopians who escaped intense fighting in their northern homeland of Tigray by fleeing into Sudan, they are now safe; but the terrifying nightmare of what they witnessed haunts them.

“I saw bodies dismembered by the explosions,” said Ganet Gazerdier, a 75-year-old sitting alone in the dust at Um Raquba refugee camp in the east of the country, newly opened to cope with a sudden influx into Sudan of over 27,000 people fleeing air strikes, artillery barrages and massacres in Ethiopia.

“Other bodies were rotting, lying on the road, murdered with a knife”, she added.

Distraught at having been forced to flee their homes, traumatised by becoming separated from family members in the mad rush, and horrified after witnessing killings, refugees wander as if dazed in the camp.

“I lived with my three daughters,” said Gazerdier, dressed in a blue dress and white headscarf to protect her from the blazing sun. “When the shells started to rain down on our house, we all panicked and fled in the dark.”

The bombardment not only destroyed her house in the western Tigray town of Humera, the site of reportedly some of the heaviest fighting, but also separated her from her family.

Everyone scattered, and she has yet to make contact with them.

“I met some friends who were fleeing too, and I followed them,” she added. “I looked around several times in search of my daughters, but to no luck.”

She has found some help at Um Raquba, 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the border, but conditions are spartan, with so far only basic emergency relief set up at the isolated camp.

She stops other Ethiopians to tell them her story, but no one pays attention. So many have terrible stories to tell.

“I have a daughter who lives in Khartoum but I don’t know her address,” she said quietly. “How can I find her in the big city?”

– Ethnic divides –

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced on November 4 he had ordered military operations in Tigray in response to attacks by the regional ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).


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