Ala’isa town in the Tigray region. The town was attacked, the health center was destroyed. May 2021. RFI/ Sébastien Németh

[Rough translation of a report by Sébastien Nemeth for Radio France International – RFI]

Published on : 10/06/2021 – 11:29

In Ethiopia, the conflict continues in Tigray region. This northern region is still plagued by violence between the former TPLF government on the one hand, and the federal army, Eritrean soldiers and Amharas militiamen on the other. The conflict has resulted in thousands of deaths and extensive damage. Since the beginning of the conflict, civilians have paid the highest price. We report from central Tigray in the town of Ala’isa.

With our special correspondent in Ala’isa, Sébastien Németh

Ala’isa had 1,500 inhabitants before the war. But now there are only a few hundred. For four days, the town was the front line of a battle between the military and the forces of the former TPLF.

“At least 20 houses were destroyed during the fighting. The ENDF and Eritreans took over, except that they also attacked the inhabitants. They stole food and livestock and shot people in their homes for no reason. Eighteen people were killed,” says Mergeta, 65, who had never experienced a conflict like this before. I had to flee to a desert area without water. Local people fed me and I survived. I saw fighting in my youth. When the Tigrayans were fighting the DERG dictatorship. But this is different. This time, civilians are among the targets.

The village health center was completely looted and destroyed by the soldiers. Getachew is a member of the interim government. For him, the destruction has a specific purpose.

“The soldiers don’t care about the civilians. They want to cut off their access to healthcare so that they will die, simply because they are Tigrayans. When the battle started, we took some of the medicine and hid it in our houses. But the soldiers went door to door and destroyed everything. Today, when a person gets sick, if he is lucky he survives, if not he dies,” he says.

Today, the inhabitants of Ala’isa survive thanks to a little humanitarian aid, but many take the road to the IDP camps. The village, like many others, could become a ghost town.