War refugees in Ethiopia urgently need emergency aid
Zurich/Kombolcha, October 12, 2021 - Fearing for relatives back home, crammed into classrooms, threatened by hunger: This is the situation of 4,614 war refugees in Kombolcha in northern Ethiopia. Mothers in particular have been stranded with their children in the city after fleeing fighting in the North Wollo region. The Swiss aid organization Menschen für Menschen is now bringing emergency aid to people.
“The situation of the people is unbearable,” reports Kelsang Kone, managing director of Menschen für Menschen. «There is not the slightest privacy. Numerous families have to share a room: 25 to 35 people are accommodated in each classroom.” The Kombolcha city administration has accommodated the refugees in eight schools. They fled the North Wollo region to the city in August amid fighting between the Ethiopian army and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF). The people survive on the sporadic gifts of the residents. The parents save on their food rations so that the children get more. The smallest children in particular are at risk of malnutrition and developmental damage.
Menschen für Menschen is on site together with its local partners from the Ethiopian non-governmental organization “Support for Sustainable Development” (SSD). A project office with three employees is now organizing the procurement and distribution of emergency aid in coordination with the local authorities. Each month, the families receive 73 kilograms of corn flour, two liters of cooking oil, as well as pots and other cooking utensils, soaps, detergents and disinfectants. The women also receive washable sanitary pads.
Initially, emergency aid is planned until the end of the year. The first distribution for 951 families begins this week. The aid organization will bring a total of over 200 tons of flour to those in need: such quantities cannot be obtained in the city of Kombolcha in the Amhara region. They are transported on trucks from the capital Addis Ababa to the city 370 kilometers north.
Avoid physical and mental damage
Since the conflict between the Ethiopian national government and the regional government in the state of Tigray was fought with armed force in November 2020, there has been a humanitarian emergency in northern Ethiopia. Hundreds of thousands of people became internally displaced. «Karlheinz Böhm founded Menschen für Menschen to help the neediest families in Ethiopia. A cornerstone of this has always been political, ethnic and religious neutrality,” emphasizes Kelsang Kone. “That’s why we are called upon to help everyone in need in this situation. Because the civilian population suffers the most in wars.”
Many of the refugees were separated from close relatives while fleeing and are now very worried because they have no news of them: “The people are depressed and desperate. It’s about avoiding further physical and mental damage, especially to children.”
The distribution in Kombolcha is the second emergency aid campaign by Menschen für Menschen. In May, the Swiss relief organization reached 5,248 people in the city of Wukro in Tigray with its emergency aid packages.
Über die Stiftung Menschen für Menschen
Menschen für Menschen setzt sich gegen Armut und Hunger ein. Die Stiftung wurde von dem Schauspieler Karlheinz Böhm (1928 – 2014) gegründet. Im Geiste des Gründers schafft das Schweizer Hilfswerk Lebensperspektiven für die ärmsten Familien in Äthiopien. Ziel der Arbeit ist es, dass sie in ihrer Heimat menschenwürdig leben können. Schwerpunkte der einzelnen Projekte sind Frauenförderung, Berufsbildung, Mikrokredite, Kinderhilfe, Familienplanung und landwirtschaftliche Entwicklung. Die Komponenten werden nach den lokalen Bedürfnissen kombiniert und mit sorgfältig ausgewählten einheimischen Partnern umgesetzt.