Occupation and an information blackout
Irob is now under the total control of invading Eritrean forces – there are no Ethiopian troops in the area.
At the same time the area is under an almost total blockout from the rest of the world.
There are no telecommunications, no transportation, no internet, no banking, no lighting. Nothing at all.
People walk on foot for days to reach Adigrat: that’s this story has reached us. Not a single journalist has managed to come to Irob since the war began.
But getting to Adigrat or Mekelle means passing through many checkpoints.
And at each there’s a strong chance that you will be robbed or anything you are carrying, or even killed, by Eritrean or Ethiopian troops.
Two civilians were killed at checkpoints in Edagahamus in the last week. Their names are Abraham Zigta and Fissuh Weldu.
The last four months plus have been a nightmare for our people, as it has been for the rest of Tigray.
Irob was the area worst affected by the 1998-200 Ethiopian-Eritrean border war.
Back then hundreds of of civilians were massacred, women and girls were raped, properties looted, houses burned down, civilians abducted.
The whereabouts and fate of over 100 civilians from that time is still unknown.
On top of that, Irob has been for over 20 years a military camp for Ethiopian troops, following the defeat of the Eritrean forces in the border war.
Crimes continues, at least partially, with the rape of women and girls and the random killing of civilians.
Our people never recovered from trauma and war crimes.
Worse than during the border war
The current war is very different from the 1998-2000 conflict.
Them we knew that the government cared for us. There were places we could flee to in the rest of Tigray that had not been occupied by the Eritreans.
Now that all parts of Tigray are under the invading forces of Eritrea, Ethiopia and the Amhara militia, where can we seek sanctuary?
The current Ethiopian regime under PM Abiy invited these foreign forces to come and attack us.
It is Ethiopian troops who are standing by while our people are massacred, raped and our homes looted and our factories destroyed.
It’s heartbreaking that many of today’s of victims are the children of men and women who were killed or abducted by the same criminals 20 years ago.
Who would have thought that 20 years later they would come back and massacre us again?
More than twenty young boys have been killed by Eritrean forces as recently as late February this year.
It’s difficult to get accurate figures for the death toll in the area, given the communications blackout.
But there have been more than 350 verified case of killings. In addition 10 houses have been burned down, and over 40 rape cases.
The looting and slaughter of our livestock for food by the Eritrean troops is so ‘normal’ that no-one bothers to comment on it any longer.
Below are the names of men and women who have been killed or abused in the current conflict.