Note: The following note is a NGO worker’s note, sent to his organization. We don’t disclose the names of the NGO and the person here. Koraro is the area where a Guh Massacre took place, which the note also refers to. The Koraro village can be seen in a map at the bottom of the page.
Brief weekly update (Koraro Hawzien)
- There is normal rain across the region though it started very late. Maher crops are growing well and farmers are trying to manage their crops (weeding and other) .
- There is access to un-restricted movements within the region (except western Tigray and a few Tabias located on the border with Eritrea).
- The humanitarian food aid is stopped in the USAID/JEOP supported woredas.
- Number of people who are at risk of starvation is exponentially increasing in rural and urban areas. Reports on significant reduction of daily meals (in quality and quantity) are coming from the field. In many places, people are eating only green leaves for days.
- Number of people who need emergency food aid is increasing from time to time. Civil servants (government and NGOs) are also in need of food assistance as they have not been paid since May/June, 2021.
- There is almost no food (grains) in markets, if at all available, in very small quantities and varieties and very expensive, and this has been complicated by lack of money to buy the food at any price.
- Many people are becoming sick due to malaria in lowland areas (example Koraro, Hawzen) due to lack of medicine in health facilities.
- Basic services such as banks, communication (telephone and internet), power, transportation from and into Tigray, etc. are blocked since late June, 2021.
- Price of food and non-food commodities has significantly increased.
Evidence from my field visit:
On August 21, 2021, my colleague and I were at the field to observe the situation. We visited one Tabia (Koraro) in Hawzen woreda and met many people in groups and visited one randomly selected household. We had some discussions with a group of people composed of ordinary farmers, DAs, women, religious leaders, and youth who are residents of the tabia. We asked them to tell us about what happened during the last eight months and about the current situation in the tabia. They told us that the situation was very devastating; nine battle events were carried out in the area, of which four of the battles lasted for a duration of three to four consecutive days. The Eritrean forces frequently came to the area. People were used to traveling and staying in the mountains of Gheralta hiding themselves for many days without food and water leaving most of their animals and household assets at home. During that time, the Eritrean and ENDF forces slaughtered many animals and looted every household’s assets. When some people stayed at home for different reasons (being elders, pregnant, sick), they killed them. One very horrific thing they told us is, one day some people stayed at home and the Eritrean forces suddenly came to the area and one Eritrean female soldier killed 19 civilians (of which 6 are from one family).
Generally, the Eritrean forces repeatedly looted every individual and communal asset and burnt straw (animal feed), grain and houses in the area and left the farmers with nothing.
Current situation of the tabia:
- We observed that more than one-third of their farmland is not sowed due to lack of oxen, seed, and late onset of rainfall.
Figure 1: Farmland that is not covered (left) and covered (right) with crops in Hawzen woreda.
- There is a high sign of hunger in the tabia.
- One household which we randomly visited (Weyzero Algay’s house, with a family size of six) was empty; there was no food readily available to be eaten, and no grain flour. I asked her how you are living with your family and she said ‘I am PSNP and L4R beneficiary and was able to own seven sheep and one donkey and all have been taken by the Eritrean forces. My household assets (food and non-food commodities) have been looted. When I come back to my home from the mountain after staying for weeks there I found only the building and roofing of my house’. She added ‘We were able to get three rounds of food aid up to May, 2021. Since June 2021 I and my family were living by borrowing from different people in the Tabia and sometimes people gave us cooked food/slice of Enjera. For the last one month, we never had any ‘Wot’ (saus) to the Enjera we ate; we simply eat Enjera with salt or water and today I am worrying what I will feed my children and if we will not have some food aid in the coming few days, we will die’. Finally, we stopped asking her because we could not tolerate to hear additional grim news from her. My colleague gave her around 400 Birr which we had in our pocket and traveled back to Mekelle.
The administrator of the tabia has also told us that there are many families who are living in similar conditions in the Tabia.