"Rich and poor people have been knocking on our door every day asking for food to survive since the war broke out", explain the Salesian missionaries in Adwa. The Tigray region, in the north of Ethiopia, is experiencing a serious humanitarian crisis seven months into the armed conflict.
The conflict is leaving thousands dead, more than a million people displaced and more than 60,000 people have had to flee their homes to other countries, such as Sudan, where refugee settlements are overflowing. In recent weeks more than 45,000 people have arrived in Shire and more than 35,000 in Adwa. "We missionaries have already visited five settlements in the area with thousands of people. Since then, we have been distributing food and other basic necessities. The number of people arriving every day is increasing. There seems to be no end to it", the Salesian missionaries explain.
In addition, more than 4.5 million people in this northern region of Ethiopia need urgent emergency aid to survive, out of a total of 5.5 million people. "The breakdown of communications, the lack of electricity, the closure of banks and markets have left the area without supplies and millions of people with nothing to eat", explains Eusebio Muñoz, director of Salesian Missions.
"Humanitarian organisations warn that between 3% and 15% of children under five years of age suffer from malnutrition because they do not receive even one meal a day," explain the Salesian missionaries in Adwa. The situation is very serious for a civilian population that was already being hit by the pandemic and the locust plagues.
Salesian Missions has launched an Emergency Ethiopia campaign to support the most vulnerable population and the Salesian missionaries working in Adwa, Shire, Adigrat and Mekelle, towns in Tigray. "We want to reach as many people as possible with food, medicines, basic necessities...", explains Muñoz. In addition, the parties involved are asked to commit to peace, but, above all, to let vulnerable people be cared for so as not to continue losing lives unnecessarily.
In the first three months of the year, Salesian missionaries in Tigray have already assisted more than 3,800 families with food and basic necessities, including displaced people, with special attention to children and young people and mothers with minors in their care. In addition, the missionaries are also reaching out to the most vulnerable Eritrean population in the region.