“We’re afraid they’ll come back and kill us all” – Yle’s photos show the cruelty of the Tigray war in Ethiopia

English Translation of a Photo report by YLE newspaper (Finland) sion) https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-11991934


In Tigray, warfare by Ethiopians and Eritreans has raised fears of ethnic cleansing.

Abraha Gebreanenya menetti koko perheensä eritrealaisten joukkosurmassa.
Abraha Gebreanenya lost his entire family in a massacre by Eritreans. Photo: Luke Dray

Liselott Lindström

21.6. 15:11

TIGRAY. Abraha Gebreanenya sits squatting and covering his face with a white scarf.

“How do you live with such grief? I can’t stand it, he says, and he cries loudly.

A month ago, Abraha Gebreanenya was herding his goats in the mountains when he heard gunshots from the valley. He saw Eritrean soldiers take over his home village.

The soldiers killed nineteen people, including Gebreanenya’s parents, his wife and five children. The youngest was only a month old.

“He was beaten from toes to head,” he says, while crying.

Abraham Gebreanenya istuu paikassa, josta hän löysi koko perheensä surmattuna.
Abraha Gebreanenya sits where he found his whole family killed. Photo: Luke Dray
Tigray tunnetut kalliokirkot olivat ennen sotiaa Etiopian huippunähtävyys.
Tigray’s well-known rock churches used to be Ethiopia’s top attraction before the war. Photo: Luke Dray

Gebreanenya buried his family in a church hewn in the cliffs. They were Tigray’s most popular tourist attraction before the war. Now no one’s here.

The war is motivated by a political conflict. Ethiopian government forces, with the help of Eritrean soldiers, are fighting the military wing of the former ruling party TPLF, the Tigray Defense Forces or TDF. Eritrean soldiers are said to be particularly cruel.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for a long time denied that Eritrea was involved in the conflict and said in March that the troops would withdraw. This has not happened.

“They came here to kill all the Tigrayans, that’s what I believe. We’re afraid they’ll come back and kill us all,” Gebreanenya says.

Active fighting continues in Tigray on a daily basis.
Active fighting continues in Tigray on a daily basis. Photo: Luke Dray
Four-year-old Samrawit lost his grandparents, mother and siblings in a massacre, but survived as if by a miracle trade.
Four-year-old Samrawit lost her grandparents, mother and siblings in the massacre, but miraculously survived. Photo: Luke Dray

Every day, new people injured in the war come to the Mekele Hospital in Tigray’s capital. Those who make it this far are lucky.

Gebrehiwot Gebreanenya walked three days to the hospital with his daughter Samrawit.  He is Abraha Gebreanenya’s brother, and Samrawit was one of two who survived the massacre.

The girl was shot in the arm, and the soldiers cut off a piece of her leg.

“They said that we fed and protected the TDF and asked where they were. When no one could answer, they did this, says Gebrehiwot, who lost his wife and other children.

Beriha Gebray has already spent three months in the hospital.  He was shot in the head.
Beriha Gebray has already spent three months in the hospital. Photo: Luke Dray
The children played with an unexploded grenade when it exploded.
Children were playing with what they thought was an unexploded grenade when it exploded. Photo: Luke Dray

There’s a whole family in the children’s ward whose kids have pieces of grenades in their limbs.

14-year-old Beriha Gebray  will never see again. She was shot by an Eritrean soldier. Where her other eye used to be, now it’s just scar tissue. The doctors took a skin graft from her shoulder.

Getish Selomon has a congenital heart condition. When soldiers surrounded his village, the 13-year-old ran out of heart medication. For over a month, he didn’t take his medication, and on the run, the family spent days eating absolutely nothing.

Getish Selomon did not receive his heart medicationm, and was on the verge of starvation on the run.
Getish Selomon couldn’t get his heart medication, and he almost starved to death on the run. Photo: Luke Dray

The hospital’s acute ward includes a constant beep from devices that monitor patients.

Next to one of the beds, a man waves a piece of cardboard to keep his brother cool.

Abraha, a 26-year-old deacon, is lying in bed. He was walking home from church when Ethiopian soldiers forced him to his knees and told him to open his mouth. Then they fired.

His friend died instantly, but Abraha survived.

Abraha married three weeks ago.
Abraha got married three weeks ago. Photo: Luke Dray
Ethiopians shot him directly in the mouth in execution style.
Abraha was shot in the mouth by the Ethiopians in execution style. Photo: Luke Dray

– The elections in Ethiopia are a huge joke. Not only in Tigray, but also elsewhere in Ethiopia, our own soldiers are killing us.

Million Desalegn, who worked as a police officer, never walks again.  The bullet hit him in the spine.
Million Desalegn, who worked as a police officer, will never walk again. Photo: Luke Dray

In the adjoining bed, Million Desalegn  repeats the same words in English over and over again. Identity card. Tigray Police. Government forces. Soldier. ID card.

He was a federal policeman. When he showed his ID to a federal soldier, he was shot, Million’s brother says. Million can’t understand why. They were both employed by the government. His ID card says his ethnicity is Tigrayan.

Not enough food aid has arrived in Tigray, and the villages have to share with each other.
Food aid is only provided in the centres. There are numerous villages where help can’t reach. Photo: Luke Dray
Food aid is only provided at the centers.  There are several villages where help cannot get there.
Not enough food aid has arrived in Tigray, and the villagers have to share among each other. Photo: Luke Dray
Hadas Wune is left alone and no one can help him get food.
Hadas Wuneh has been left alone, and no one can help her get food. Photo: Luke Dray

Signs of war can be seen all over Tigray, sometimes the sounds of fighting even reach the capital, Mekele.

The people of Tigray are threatened by famine due to the war. Up to 90% of the population needs food aid. Soldiers have destroyed homesteads, looted people’s food and goods and banned farmers from cultivating their land. Animals have been killed. There are several villages where soldiers block access.

The 95-year-old Hadas Wuneh has seen wars in Tigray before, but never anything like this.

“The Eritreans took everything and slaughtered our animals and children. They kill us and our tears make us blind, says Hadras, who queues for food aid.

Young people are now joining TDF troops in large numbers.
The young people are now joining the TDF in large numbers. Photo: Luke Dray
A TDF soldier who has returned from fighting has been shot in the shoulder.
In a battle, a TDF soldier has been shot in the shoulder. Photo: Luke Dray
Factory Tsega Berhan hopes Tigray will become independent.
Teheras Tsega Berhan hopes Tigray will become independent. Photo: Luke Dray

TDF forces are increasingly joined by the youth to fight the government forces of Ethiopia and Eritrea.

20-year-old Teheras Tsega Berhan left the university and now commands troops.

We can’t live like this. We want peace and freedom, she says.


One thought on ““We’re afraid they’ll come back and kill us all” – Yle’s photos show the cruelty of the Tigray war in Ethiopia

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: