The battles between Ethiopian government-aligned troops and Tigrayan forces may have stopped, but herders in western Afar region are left fighting for survival.
The record drought in the Horn of Africa that has killed millions of livestock has been made worse by landmines left by combatants.
Herder Hassen Arebti Hassen’s 4-year-old daughter was injured by a landmine, and the weapons are also killing his animals.
He said landmines are everywhere, and many animals have stepped on them and died.
Landmines and other explosives are so common in the area that some locals use the wood from their crates as building materials.
Nine-year-old Ali Omer said his 10-year-old friend was killed by a landmine while they were herding goats together.
“We were just there to take care of the goats, but my friend died,” he said.
Omer said his friend was playing, throwing stones at the landmine, but then he picked it up and threw it to the ground.
Omer was also injured.
His father, Oumer Hadeto, said landmines make them all afraid to collect water, despite the drought.
Hadeto said the community doesn’t know what to do, and he has to spend a lot of money to buy food for his family and animals. The landmines need to be removed, he added.
After speaking with locals, VOA was unable to establish which side in the conflict was responsible for laying the mines.
Bekele Gonfa, executive director of a nonprofit in Addis Ababa that supports landmine victims, said people in mined areas of Ethiopia, like Chifra, need help.
“Number one is the medical treatment. And then, they’re provided with psychosocial support, which includes counseling. Particularly, that’s what the organization is basically engaged in. The public and the community [have] to be given risk education in order to really keep themselves away from the mines,” Gonfa said.
But with the ongoing drought, people in Chifra have little choice but to risk landmines if they want to find food for their animals and collect water for their survival.
Source: Voice of America