The Washington Post: After fleeing to Sudan, Ethiopians from Tigrayans tell stories of brutal killings

2020-11-19 | Since 2 Month

From the temporary shelters in refugee camps in Gedaref, Sudan, across the border with Ethiopia, a Washington Post report recounts refugee accounts of what they saw as they fled the worsening conflict in the northern Tigray region of Ethiopia.

"They are killing people madly," said Zamzam McConnen, 26, referring to government soldiers, her voice still shrouded in terror as she embraced her 5-year-old daughter. "We saw a lot of dead people on the road. We did not bring any food or clothes with us ... We just ran away to save our lives and the lives of our children," she added.

Beside her, Samiri Tesfai described seeing human heads cut off from their bodies and stabbed with knives and axes, which terrified thousands who walked for days in search of safety in Sudan.

"This is an unspeakable genocide against the Tigrayans," said Smiri, a 35-year-old English teacher. He added that he fled conflict in his city last week with his cousins, neighbors and some friends. He added that when he and his relatives fled, government soldiers shouted at them, "Abi Ahmed is the ruler, and we are the ones who control."

The newspaper pointed out that civilians are fleeing the fighting between the Ethiopian army and forces loyal to the powerful faction that rules Tigray. Each claims that the other is the aggressor in the violence that has erupted and claimed hundreds of lives, and which threatens to undermine the country's economic and political reforms and disturb the volatile Horn of Africa.

On the other hand, the newspaper stated that it was not able to independently confirm Zamzam and Samiri's accounts of violence. It quoted a spokeswoman for Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed denying that government forces were killing citizens, and said that they were targeting militias fighting on behalf of the Tigrayans' rulers.

The Washington Post highlighted the United Nations refugee agency’s warning that a "large-scale humanitarian crisis" was unfolding around Tigray, with up to 4,000 Ethiopians fleeing across the border into Sudan every day. The agency said that a wave of 27,000 refugees has already poured into Sudan since the outbreak of the conflict this month, and that the humanitarian groups present there were not ready for such developments, which confused them.

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"People come from Ethiopia terrified and in real fear," said agency spokesman Babar Baloch. "Accounts say that they have fled heavy fighting. There is no indication that the fighting will stop."

The newspaper reported that the violence spread across the northern border of Ethiopia at the weekend when Tigray forces fired missiles at the Eritrean capital Asmara, blaming it for bias towards Addis Ababa.

And Amnesty International, citing witnesses, said last week that it had evidence of a massacre of civilians who were stabbed and dismembered to death in Mai Kadra town in Tigray after the outbreak of the conflict.

In the camp guarded by the Sudanese army, Zamzam said that food and blankets are running out amid the increasing number of refugees. "I don't want anything but to see an end to the war so that we can return to our homeland," she commented.

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