AFAR PASTORALIST DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION
QAFAR DACARSITTOH DADALIH EGLA
Conflict Adds to the Layers of Existing Emergencies
August 13th 2021
- A dramatic turnaround of sudden displacement:
As of July 16th, Tigray People’s Liberation Army entered from Allamatta area into Yallo, central western Afar Region. The Region stunned at such an action is now into 4 weeks into daily warfare. APDA estimates as many as 190,450 people may well be displaced having left for fear of fighting or during the battle empty – handed (33,412 households). With 46 of the organization’s community health workers mobilized and walking through the rural areas to locate the displaced for the past 12 days, already 9,419 households fleeing from Uwwa and the border areas of Sifra have been located in 6 hinterland sub-districts (kebeles) of Sifra district.
This map and table hopefully indicates where people have fled from and to as well as showing the previous displacement as of December from Tigray into Afar Region:
Districts such as Magaale now have displaced from Tigray as well as newly displaced from Yallo, for example.
Those displaced are from towns as well as adjoining rural areas and are now lodging as they can in currently unused school compounds and clinic compounds. For the most however, they are living with their host Afar pastoralists scattered into the hinterland. The people of Uwwa who have endured almost 3 weeks of daily warfare have gone as far as the Geega grazing valley in Dubte, numbering perhaps as many as 15,000 people. Having eaten what they had, the host communities have only their herd to slaughter keeping themselves and these displaced alive. Food access for all in the area is now impossible.
Trying to cope in a school classroom, Digdiga, Teeru, 02/08/21
|| Displaced sub-districts
||Approximate number of displaced
||Dibina, Rakrak, Udayli, Wal’I, Musgiid, Rakub Dora, Kwle kee Gabule, Diddi’eela
||Guulina: Gaali Koma
Awra: Hiddelu, Dabal, Finto
Teeru: Dabayra, Dirma
Magaale: Bubbuyse, Magaale town, Limmo
||Already displaced but moving as they hear news of food assistance and away from 2 new battle fronts
||Daraytu, Ayga kee Burtale, Muuli kee ‘Ass’ale, Kalwaan, Gaali Koma, Fokkisa,
|Teeru: Digdiga, Dabayra
Awra: Finto, Dabal
||Moving as food is reported in Digdiga.
||Hidda, Lee Koma, Ali Baxi Musgiid, Daraytu, Lee Kora,
||Awra: Finto, Dabal, Hidaylu
||Moving to find food from Hidda to the north
||Buuti, Bolatamol, Dubba, Ragden, Koffa Barun, Sanuta, Fiyato
||Dubte: Geega – Gur’ale, Durunguta
Sifra: Dergeera, Sifra town, Magalla, Andalkalo
||Still moving as fighting each day around Uww administration town
||Yaara, ‘Adkoma, Masgiid, Wa’ama
||Sifra: Der Geera, Mille:
‘Adda’ar: Wanto kee fursa, Burka
||Still moving as war is today
- APDA’s immediate concerns for these displaced.
For a start-up, all these communities are familiar for APDA, the organization having implemented education and health service delivery in their remote communities or actually continuing to do so. The organization is most concerned that there is literally no available food or medical care, merchants and non-Afar health workers having fled, the 2 regional markets in the area of Yallo and Sifra being closed, no banking system and, in the entire area, Digdiga health center on the northern front of fighting and Sifra health center in the south being the only functional institutions. As mentioned, APDA immediately fielded 4 mobile health teams walking through the communities the conflict – affected have fled into. From the ravages of drought and locust infestation, people were already malnourished. With the rainy season malaria and pneumonia is evident and diarrhea diseases inevitable as people drink unprotected water. APDA’s teams are reaching those ‘invisible’ to the government or other organizations, walking on foot with camels to deliver help. To date, simply taking from the supplies APDA had for other malnourished communities, a total of 250 quintals of supplementary food has gone out by taking the truck so far and then going on with camels. Rural roads are now rain-soaked quagmires: people are cold and wet. Having given what was in the APDA store and collected in the towns from locals, the immediate ongoing needs for these off-road displaced are:
- Supplementary food particularly for children, elderly, pregnant and lactating mothers as well as chronically ill
- Shelter from the rain, blankets and sleeping mats
- Soap and water purifying chemicals
- Medicines, mosquito nets
- Need of constant surveillance of nutrition and disease status as well as pregnant and delivering mothers
Needs of rehabilitation are going to be colossal as 3 towns are severely damaged including schools, clinics and even food stores were incinerated. People’s property is reportedly looted or burnt around the battle sites.
- The locusts and malnutrition we knew before
Rightly speaking, none of what was troubling struggling herding families has gone away. The rainy season did start well in early July but it has not reached many areas on the Eritrean border. APDA continues to carry out nutrition surveillance in much of northern and central Afar as well as Gala’alu in the south. In 8 districts, the organization treats over 500 severely malnourished children and has identified over 5,000 children and mothers who can well slip into severe malnutrition if they are not given supplementary food. The most severely affected are the northern districts as markets there are also not functioning and food availability is so poor. Indeed, the worst – affected is Magaale where as of a month now, desert locusts have returned in earnest destroying new pasture as fast as it appears. Again, this district needs support with animal feed to sustain the herd.
- Continuing the development program
Along with the crisis as described, the development program does continue in earnest as the vital hope of the community.
- Literacy programs continue throughout the Region and the alternative basic education (ABE) will resume with the new school year in September along with APDA’s 4 hostels. For that, there is much preparation to be undertaken assuring that students that were taught the previous year continue and as far as possible, new students join ABE. APDA is deliberately following up each and every girl-student that has been supported in hostel living to continue her schooling to be sure the opportunity is still open for her, rather than she is married to start a new family. The great uncertainty of course is that of children APDA was supporting in Uwwa and Awra.
- Primary health teams are thoroughly busy fighting off the prospects of malaria and diarrheal diseases
- As already mentioned, pregnancy and child birth is fraught with additional challenges as ambulances are now used in conflict but the maternal health program continues in earnest to sustain gains made in reducing maternal casualty, linked to the organization’s Barbara May Maternity Hospital in Mille working hard as one of the only functioning hospitals in the area
- Empowering women and girls is reaching new heights through the ongoing struggle of women extension workers. In Gala’alu, a significant community has now left female genital mutilation through the constant initiation of their women extension worker. Girls and women are also getting the benefit of usable menstrual hygiene they had not experienced before.
- In two northern districts adjacent to Tigray, a local market is slowly emerging through supporting highly conflict – affected women to undertake small enterprises. This is geared to revert these communities from the constant and sinking food insecurity they are in. In all, this year 200 women will start businesses and a further 100 in the coming year.
- Again, livelihoods are being restored in 3 districts. In Garani on the lower Awash River, the communities are learning horticultural productive irrigation linking this to the market and in the dry hinterlands of Kori and Awra, land is being transformed from drought/ flood erosion so that the natural grasses and forests can rejuvenate.
Future clan elders displaced in Digdiga, Teeru