July. 24.2021 Update

Rapid Update: Working to assist now over 70,000 displaced people fleeing from ongoing fighting along Afar Region’s central western border with Tigray and Amhara Regions.

– APDA’s emergency team has just returned from 3 days in the north of the affected Zone seeing the consequences for those having fled from Yallo, Guulina and Awra.

– TPLF continue to advance taking towns and roadways leading to central Afar Region. The pastoralist community as well as the town – dwellers are still fleeing ahead of the fighting.

July 24th, 2021
Fighting continues with the most devastating weapons on both side. Since writing 4 days ago, on the southern fighting front, the town of Alale Subla, administration of Uwwa and Hidda are now destroyed. The military and TPLF are between the large town of Sifra and Uwwa. People fled yesterday and still struggle a safe distance from the fighting.

The extent of the problem:
A total of 6 woredas/ districts are now affected with an overall population of around 300,000 people. Of these, upwards of 50 % have fled, are fleeing. Fighting is/ was along the roadway that links the market town of Yallo to Guulina to Awra to Uwwa and onto the second market town of Sifra adjacent to Mille and the center of the Region. TPLF are in the rural sub-districts of the border hills as well as surrounding the towns. Yallo, Kalwaan town in Guulina, Awra and Alaale Subla in Uwwa are all now occupied, the towns of Alaale Subla, Kalwaan and Yallo having been extensively damaged, household food looted as well as government – stored relief food.

On the northern perimeter of the conflict, people fled as of July 16th taking upwards of 4 days to reach a place of protection and assistance. In all, from Awra alone, a district just south of Yallo and Guulina where TPLF made their entry from Tigray, 22,350 people are displaced from a total population of around 43,000 people. They are displaced into the houses of pastoralists as well as collecting in any constructed institution in the area.

APDA visited them in Digdiga, Teeru district in Gaali Koma, Guulina bordering to Teeru and in Uri Kuddi in Finto sub-district of Awra. Upwards of 500 people, the vast majority women and children are sheltering in schools and clinics – the spill –over is being taken by un-used houses while others are totally in the open in the hills of Dabayra a grazing area, the latter having fled with a handful of animals.

Dabal sub-district houses around 15,000 displaced from Kalwaan town and the surrounds. As of today, there are many who have not eaten for 4 days. People fled without any food or property and in rural areas, the community is trying to slaughter goats for them to eat.
Not only the displaced people but also the entire Zone 4 is cut off from food supplies with the take-over of Yallo market, Sifra market now deserted and all the town merchants having fled. A 50 kilogram bag of grain has reached 2,600 ETB in Teeru but mostly not obtainable. Everywhere the fear of and actual lack of food exists – up to 7 people sharing one piece of locally cooked bread meant for one person.

Health issues:
With the grouping of people in school compounds and other buildings as they shelter from the rainy season, diseases are already appearing. As was seen, some of the children came malnourished and there is almost no sanitation. People drinking unprotected rainwater is very worrying as cholera and other waterborne diseases can quickly spread.

Assistance so far and the gaps:
On July 21st, APDA team took wheat flour, sugar and lentils distributing 5 kilograms of flour, 2 kilograms of sugar and 3 kilograms of lentils to women and children in Digidiga school – they had not eaten for 2 and up to 5 days. Around 350 people were assisted.

Another truck is similarly leaving today to rescue people sheltering but isolated in Dabal – the truck will come within 20 kilometers of the people. The host community will move the assistance by camel for the remainder.

The government emergency DPFSPCO sent two small trucks of varied food on July 22nd. This assistance is really only for a few days.

Overall, the credit goes to the mighty and constant effort of the Teeru district administration, the administrator working tirelessly to rescue and move weak people and those unable to make the journey – a pregnant mother delivered within hours of reaching Digdiga. He also brought 300 blankets, what food was in his administration store and bought some cooking pots and kettles – a real humanitarian!!!

Aside from food,
– There are no cooking pots (actually saw a group of 350 – odd people in the rural with 2 cooking pots boiling meat the community had provided).
– Sleeping mats, tents and blankets are all needed.
– Water purification and soap is also urgently needed

APDA now plans to place mobile health workers in teams to go through the rural areas and find displaced households who have no food, give awareness and work to see that as far as it is possible, diseases do not spread. This is needed on the northern front as well as in the south around Sifra.

For any further information, please be in touch – 251 911642575

July. 20.2021 Update

Rapid Update: APDA emergency team visit to Afar’s central western border with Amhara and Tigray Regions

– Tigray Defense Force taking roads and towns in Afar central west displacing thousands of both town and rural people

July 20th, 2021
As of July 16th, TDF broke into Afar Region through Yallo adjacent to Allamatta in Tigray. They quickly took the town of Yallo and moved on to take the town of Kalwaan in Guulina district just 37 kilometers away. Town and adjacent rural communities immediately fled in all directions: to Magaale north, To Teeru, To Awra, Uwwa and Sifra and on to Logya – in all, the majority of those fleeing have gone to rural areas to shelter with other Afar. Around 7,000 have spent up to 4 days on the road coming south and are living in the town of Allale Subla in Uwwa, in Sifra and are trying to move on – these people took any transport they could find as well as walking. The distance is around 90 kilometers and they are lodging as many as 15 people in one local Afar house.

Meeting with them yesterday (19th July) in Uwwa’s Alaale Subla, they left all possessions including food and the new clothes they had bought for children to celebrate Eid Al Adha today, running with their children. They said all houses were stripped of food and anything valuable by the advancing TDF and they named at least 20 people killed in Yallo: 3 old men unable to flee, a mother and child and others caught in crossfire.

As fighting continues today, TDF having taken the town of Awra yesterday and pushing on to Uwwa and Sifra, people are still fleeing.

The needs are overwhelming: people have no food first. Then any form of cover since the rainy season has started and being wet is cold. The health center in Uwwa has almost no supplies to assist. There are apparently wounded but they have mostly gone into rural areas.

For those who today celebrate the Eid Al Adha, there are well over 50,000 people who will not and cannot other than join in Eid prayers.

This overwhelming shock comes on the back of all the other displacement in Afar Region: those displaced from Tigray into Afar Region further north in Magaale, Konnaba, Dallol as well as Yallo where already there were Tigrayans from fighting around Allamatta. Then the fighting between Issa/ Somalis and Afar further south is far from resolved. Aside from that, locusts that have already arrived and expected, weak animals from drought and so on is all part of the Afar vulnerability.

The absolute needs today are
a) Food
b) Shelter and blankets from the cold of the rain
c) Medicines for displaced – injured and sick
Then the next step is how and when these people return to their raided/ damaged homes and livelihoods.

For more information, please be in contact. 251 911642575