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#TigrayGenocide | Grave Humanitarian Crisis is Unfolding in Ethiopia | National Geographic

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on June 1, 2021

I never saw hell before, but now I have.”

The only roads open in besieged Tigray, a semi-autonomous federal state in northern Ethiopia, lead to endless tales of darkness. Most roads north and south from Tigray’s capital of Mekele have been closed to journalists and humanitarian aid. Burnt-out tanks and looted ambulances stripped of engines and wheels line the road west. Patches of towering eucalyptus trees give way to rocky, untilled fields—and checkpoint after checkpoint manned by Ethiopian troops. Soldiers from neighboring Eritrea saunter casually through villages, marking their presence.

Almost everyone in the region has a story to share, but few will show their faces on camera. Fear is everywhere.

Araya Gebretekle had six sons. Four of them were executed while harvesting millet in their fields on the outskirts of the town of Abiy Addi in west Tigray. Araya says Ethiopian soldiers approached five of his sons with their guns raised; as his children begged for their lives in the fields—explaining they were simply farmers—a female soldier ordered them dead. They pleaded for the troops to spare one of the brothers in order to help their elderly father work the fields. The soldiers let the youngest—a 15-year-old—go free. He lived to recount the story to his parents. Now, says Araya, “my wife is staying at home always crying. I haven’t left the house until today, and every night I dream of them.… There were six sons. I asked the oldest one to be there, too, but thank God he refused.”

Kesanet Gebremichael wails as nurses try to change the bandages and clean the wounds on her charred flesh at Ayder Hospital in the regional capital Mekele. The 13-year-old was inside her home in the village of Ahferom, near Aksum, when it was hit by long-range artillery. “My house was destroyed in the fire,” says her mother, Genet Asmelash. “My child was inside.” The girl suffered burns on more than 40 percent of her body.

Senayit was raped by soldiers on two separate occasions—in her home in Edagahamus, and as she tried to flee to Mekele with her 12-year-old son. (The names of the rape victims mentioned in this story are pseudonyms.) The second time, she was pulled from a minibus, drugged, and brought to a military base, where she was tied to a tree and sexually assaulted repeatedly over the course of 10 days. She fell in and out of consciousness from the pain, exhaustion, and trauma. At one point, she awoke to a horrifying sight: Her son, along with a woman and her new baby, were all dead at her feet. “I saw my son with blood from his neck,” she says. “I saw only his neck was bleeding. He was dead.” Senayit crumpled into her tears, her fists clenched against her face, and howled a visceral cry of pain and sadness, unable to stop weeping. “I never buried him,” she screamed, between sobs. “I never buried him.”

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One Response to “#TigrayGenocide | Grave Humanitarian Crisis is Unfolding in Ethiopia | National Geographic”

  1. […] 👉 “I never saw hell before but I saw it in Tigray“ […]

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