Shock of more than a hundred children killed at IDP camp in Ethiopia

Ethiopian refugee children, who fled the Tigray conflict, at the Um Raquba refugee camp in Sudan's eastern Gedaref state on December 12, 2020. PHOTO | AFP

ETHIOPIA | AFP: Hundreds of people were killed after a relief camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Ethiopia’s Afar region was attacked by an armed group.

Regional officials on Monday reported that over 200 people, including more than 100 children, were killed in the attack that they say happened on Friday.

Sources told Nation.Africa that the incident occurred after artillery shells hit the IDP shelter cited in Zone four of Galicoma district last Friday.

Nation.Africa could not immediately verify which armed group was behind the attack.

However, Ahmed Haloita, the region’s head of communications, told the BBC that the attack was carried out by fighters allied to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

TPLF officials have not yet reacted to those allegations.
Some 30,000 IDPs are said to have been sheltered in the area at the time of the attack.

UN reacts

Following news of the gruesome killings, the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) expressed alarm while calling on all parties to do everything in their power to protect children from harm.

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“The intensification of fighting in Afar and other areas neighbouring Tigray is disastrous for children,” a statement issued by Unicef boss Henrietta Fore said.

“It follows months of armed conflict across Tigray that have placed some 400,000 people, including at least 160,000 children, in famine-like conditions. Four million people are in crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity in Tigray and adjoining regions of Afar and Amhara. More than 100,000 have been newly displaced by the recent fighting, adding to the 2 million people already uprooted from their homes,” the agency boss added.

TPLF forces launched an offensive in neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions after the federal government withdrew its army from Mekelle, Tigray’s capital, in late June when it declared a unilateral ceasefire.
Country ‘falling apart’

As the Tigray conflict spreads to other regions, observers fear that the once-united Horn nation might fall apart.

Previously, some analysts had warned that Ethiopia might become the next Yugoslavia, referring to the disintegration of the once European country whose former republics split into independent states.

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A few days ago, two Ethiopian opposition political parties, The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and Hibir Ethiopia Democratic Party, called for inclusive political dialogue to end conflicts in Ethiopia.

The opposition groups called on warring parties to engage in talks in order to rescue the nation from total chaos.

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