Unforgettable crimes, inerasable scars

Ensnared helplessly between the continued crying of her two-week old daughter who could not resist the hot weather, and the unresolved feeling of her displacement, Fatuma Ibrahim could not remain stable.

Unlike its intended purpose, Afdera, has become a temporary shelter for citizens displaced from Megale District following the reinvasion of the terrorist TPLF of certain areas.

Over one thousand citizens evacuated from various areas of Zone one; have sheltered In Afdera Woreda Primary School. Of which, elderlies, children, women and new mothers are among others.

Because, almost the whole structure of the school is being made of corrugated iron, it has doubled the temperature. Fatuma was almost in her due dates when the TPLF insurgents reinvaded Megale District of Zone one. Sadly, the heavy gunshots that were fired in the area startled her and her entire families.

With the support of her relatives, she was able to escape to a nearby mountain during the midnight and it was there she gave birth to her baby girl. During her two days stay in the mountain, Fatuma was able to observe the terrible crimes that the TPLF force perpetrated against innocent civilians.

Ranging from firing heavy artilleries, looting cattle to torturing elderlies, the insurgents were attacking the people mercilessly. Once she decided to flee and started her journey. Fortunately, she fell into the hands of the Afar Special Force who took her and her baby to Afdera resettlement center. Leaving aside what she had gone through, having no idea of the whereabouts of her husband and her two children would not let her have a peace of mind.

Though she has heard the inhumane crimes the insurgents of the TPLF group committed against the peoples of Afar in Zone three and four; as well as on people residing in Gondar and Wollo, in Amhara State, now she has witnessed group’s hardheartedness by her own eyes.

Luckily, she has now escaped from the callous acts of the rebels. However, the life she is leading along with her infants worries her a lot. “My little baby has a fever; I am not well too. Worse than this, I cannot stand the heat. With such condition, staying here for long is too difficult.

Thus, if we return to our former places as much as possible, it would be good for all of us,” she added. Seid Yassin’s Salt Manufacturing Factory was the other place where displaced people sheltered. In similar manner, over one thousand displaced citizens have protected in this factory.

The situation existed in this shelter is as same as the previous one. Abeyna Zenu is the other woman who fled from Megale District and gave birth to her first baby on the street about a week ago which was truly a terrifying experience for her. “We were leading a peaceful life till they invaded the town and displaced us.

The sudden attack opened by the rebel group has changed everything. They massacred children, elderlies and women. The group should be held accountable for the crime committed,” she underscored. Fatuma also urged the government to give them timely solutions.

The 20-year-old girl named Tigist Tizazu, who was gang raped by TPLF fighters in front of her two-year daughter was amongst the 30 rape survivors that are being hospitalized in Debre Berhan Hospital in a separate area.

She lives with her father and child in a container where she sells tea for villagers. As to her, business in Mehal Meda is very slow because it is situated in rural area and it is not convenient for business.

“On their way out, the TPLF fighters came to our home at three a.m.; and ordered us to open the door; and threatened to shoot us if we fail to do so. We were scared for our lives so we opened the door.

The insurgents that came to us were three. Opening the door, we begged them for our lives kneeling down in front of them saying we are poor people. My father is 80 years old and my child is only two.”

As she stated, one of the soldiers snatched her child from her. She kept begging him, asking him ‘please, what do you want? Please I am begging you’. But he would not listen; they snatched her child from her and went inside her home, as to her. She went on saying: “I do not remember when they passed out me putting their hands over my mouth.

I think they sprayed something like perfume. But I saw them snatch my child. I do not remember when he put me on bed, took of clothes and did what they wanted,” she said with tears. “I think it was around 6 a.m. that I woke up after sprinkling holy water on me. When I woke up, the first thing I asked was ‘where is my child?’ My father was tied to a tree as they tortured him while I was unconscious. My daughter was screaming and crying.

They were holding her as she was screaming and scratching his face looking for me. My father was crying as well. When I regained consciousness at 6 a.m. and I saw my daughter, my wish to live was restored.” She said that if she had lost her daughter, she would have taken her own life. When she saw her sweet child, she restored hope.

As to her, the rebel group had injured her father physically, ordered him to carry weapons and to join them. He had suffered a lot, and was taken and tortured all the way to Guassa.

Even though he was covered with wounds she helped him get better. “We have overcome this dark time. It was like having a never ending labor pain. In fact, labor pain is momentary and banishes after birth. But this was too awful and petrifying.

If I was ever going through that life again, I would pray that God takes away my life. We have endured a lot of challenges but the country is getting calmer and it is giving us hope,” she said. While interviewed by Lila Talks, another woman said from Ataye Town: “Five of my family members were killed and twelve of them were injured on Dec7, 2021.

I am taking care of the 12 people at the place I am staying. They burned my house down. My ten-year old daughter, my in–laws and neighbors have been killed. Now I am in distress.”


The   3 March  2022

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