Ethiopia: Four young sisters among those caught in the country’s bloody civil war

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Ethiopia: Four young sisters among those caught in the country’s bloody civil war


There is a small park in Addis Ababa with a bench and flowers and a big red wall.

It was built on wasteland by the manager of a local inn, and there is a five-year-old who comes to draw every afternoon.

Her name is Kidist and she draws on the wall with little pebbles that work a bit like chalk.

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Kidist also lost his heel in one foot in the explosion

“It’s the face, it’s the hand, the eyes, the legs. Oh, the hair. “

As an image takes shape, her right sleeve slips off, revealing an ugly scar – one of many, doctors say, covering her body.

Kidist also lost the heel of one foot after an artillery shell exploded outside his family’s home.

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Yigzaw family talks about impact Ethiopian civil conflict has had on their family

Her sisters were also injured in the explosion, which took place late last year.

Bethlehem, who is nine years old, lost her Achilles tendon and the injury never healed.

The 14-year-old Yordanos has lost most of her left leg.

The older sister is Abeba, 17, who had part of her right leg amputated.

She looks weary and distant.

“When I step on it, when I touch it, it hurts,” she said, pointing to a large scar above the amputated limb.

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Yigzaw family don’t know who fired the shell that destroyed the family home

Ethiopiait’s bloody civil conflict is conducted with little knowledge of the cost. The number of dead, injured or missing is apparently unknown as Abiy Ahmed’s government forces fight fighters in the rebel region of Tigray.

But the impact on the Yigzaw family has been catastrophic.

“Do you think about the war? I asked Ababa.

“Of course, we are worried. A lot of people are dying, a lot of people are injured. We are the example. We were worried and crying, but there is nothing we can do. What happened happened. “

No one knows who fired the shell that destroyed the family home, located in a village called Hawelti. The two government soldiers and Tigrayan rebels were fighting nearby.

But the girls found some security in a cramped studio apartment in the capital, Addis Ababa. They live here with their uncle, Kalayu, who found them last December, covered in blood, in the back of an Ethiopian army truck.

The uncle of the sisters of the Yigzaw family, Kalayu.
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The four sisters have found safety in the capital Addis Ababa, where they live with their uncle, Kalayu

They had been brought to a place called Dessie for emergency treatment by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) team.

“It’s very difficult when you see that they are bleeding, they are injured, they are crying. It’s very difficult. I saw them in the (vehicle) so I parked there. Continue.

He took on a role he couldn’t anticipate – a surrogate parent for four vulnerable daughters. He says he has little choice as their mother was killed in the attack and their father has been missing for months.

“I didn’t tell them what happened to their mother because they were in a terrible situation. After seven months we told the older two, but Kidist and Bethlehem (still) don’t know. mother, I miss my mother ‘… ”

Kalayu is unable to continue the thought.

Yigzaw family - talk about the impact of the Ethiopian civil conflict.
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The family will soon have to find new accommodation

The ICRC provided medicine and rehabilitation services in Addis Ababa, but it was clear that Yordanos was in pain.

We watched the girls get ready for school, but the 14-year-old couldn’t get out of bed.

“It’s all swollen,” she said, tearfully gazing at the bulbous end of her amputated leg.

“Are you going to school today?” ” I asked.

“I can’t, the prosthesis won’t fit because it’s swollen. “

Bethlehem, 9, lost her Achilles tendon and the wound never healed.
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Nine-year-old Bethlehem lost her Achilles tendon and the wound never healed

Her siblings are experiencing this pain, but they still had to prepare for school. Their uncle is a teacher and that’s what he expects.

Still, the 32-year-old does a lot on his own. The financial support of the ICRC which keeps them in this cramped hostel ends at the end of the month, and he will have to find new accommodation for the family.

But his faith in the future is intact.

“God does these things, and we will (get through). They will make their dreams come true and I will be by their side forever. ”

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