Current crisis is ‘three times worse’ than the famine in the 1980s

As we work closely with our trusted local partner to assist growing numbers of internally displaced people in Tigray, we hear harrowing reports about their living conditions and experiences.

Back to all stories | Posted on 12 April 21 in News

War rages on in Tigray, Ethiopia, and much of the world remains unaware. The stories we are hearing from our source about what people have gone through since the conflict began last November are nothing short of horrific. But with communication channels only partially open and much of the country still in ‘blackout’, global media remains largely silent.

There are many thousands of people living in cramped, squalid conditions having fled their homes to escape extreme violence.

Our source confirmed: “Nearly every house in Tigray has been attacked. People are killed. People from different parts of Tigray flee … to relatively safe places. So, over 60,000 crossed to Sudan and over one million IDPs are in the region, out of which 152,000 are in Mekelle town.”

We are currently providing vital food parcels and other essential items to around 19,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) in schools that have had to turn into shelters in Tigray’s capital, Mekelle, and living among the community in Maychew, to the south.

Our source continued: “The hosting communities in Mekelle – even though they are victims of war and have not enough for themselves – they kindly share whatever the little they have, but their contribution is a drop in the ocean. So, people are in need of food aid. Those who are in the schools don't have enough space. For example, in one of the schools there are about 6,000 IDPs and over 80 sleep in a small classroom.”

Such conditions, with inadequate sanitation, are a serious threat to health and while health services are barely functioning, a serious threat to life. And all this is being endured by those who have already experienced unimaginable suffering.

It’s easy to feel stunned into inaction or overwhelmed by the horror and sadness in these reports. But your support is helping. Even in the face of such violence and destitution, our partners tell us that the small acts being carried out by our supporters – raising awareness of this situation; praying for the people of Tigray; and giving money to help bolster our response – are making a huge difference:

“With the support we received so far from Mary's Meals, we were able to distribute food for more than 8,000 IDPs in Mekelle and Maychew. We are able to provide a daily meal for more than 11,000 IDPs based in seven IDP schools in Mekelle. And thanks to the generosity of Mary's Meals and everyone involved, this is life-saving work.

“During this difficult time and brokenness, we strongly feel the closeness, compassion and care that is consoling us and giving us comfort from Mary's Meals – they are doing all they can to ease and take away the suffering that was and still is part of our daily life for the last five months. We are reassured that we are not alone in our pain and suffering. No matter how painful and difficult this situation is, all-rounded support we receive from Mary's Meals and other partners and individuals is helping us recover our hope, our courage and our endurance.”

It seems that the war is far from over and, tragically, there is likely to be more violence, trauma and pain to come for the people of Tigray. However, you can play a part in bringing relief to those who are suffering and help to shine a light on the realities of this situation.

During precious phone conversations with our source in Tigray, she constantly calls on us to tell the world what is happening; to keep raising awareness about the suffering in her region until the international community is forced to act. So, we are asking you to join us. Please, share our posts; tell your friends about what’s going on; and if you’re fundraising for our campaign, let your local paper know why. Together, we can bring the suffering of Tigray to the front of people’s minds, where it truly belongs.

To close with some words from our source: “I would like to say to the world about this situation: people are hungry, people are starving; 1.4 million children are out of school; vital social services have been broken; people are in a life-threatening condition, in particular people with chronic health problems are dying because the health facilities, are almost not functioning.

“So, I would like to say to the world: please hear and listen attentively to the cries of the suffering people in Tigray, do all you can to stop the war, killing of civilians, forcing people to leave their land, their homes. I would like to say to the world, scale up the humanitarian aid and assist people to breathe the air of peace.”

In uncertain times, your generosity is needed more than ever.

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