Thousands of children are separated from their parents in human groups


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Refugee children from Ethiopia who fled on December 12, 2020, to the Um Raqqaba refugee camp in Sudan’s eastern Gedaref state, leaving the Tigray conflict in Ethiopia for food delivery by Muslim Aid.

YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP / Getty Image

Thousands of children are separated from their parents amid a conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia and are in dire need of protection, aid groups say.

Many have been forced to seek refuge in informal camps and are at risk of abuse, sexual harassment and rape. Children’s support groups say that unaccompanied and isolated children need mental health support to help them cope with the trauma they are suffering from. International Organization for Migration The region has reported at least 917 unconscious and 4,056 isolated children.

A new report from Save the Children published on Monday stated that many of these children separated from their parents while running away for their lives, while others have also lost their parents in the conflict.

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The organization said that many children are living in single rooms where more than 50 people sleep, which increases the risk of physical and sexual violence. Rape and sexual assault of women and girls – including pregnant and elderly women – is on the rise, with more than 950 girls and women reported being raped in the last two months. Over 950 women and girls are reported to have been raped in the last two months.

Ethiopia’s army captured Megele, the capital of Tigray, in late November. But after thousands of civilians and fighters were killed since early November, conflicts between military and Tigrayan forces have continued.

Ethiopia-based UNCHR spokesman Elizabeth Arnsdorff Hassund said the refugee agency is “deeply concerned” over the humanitarian situation in Tigre, where hundreds of people need life-long assistance in the midst of the conflict.

Ethiopia’s Humanitarian Director Matthew Sugri said that there is a profound impact of separating from their families and forcing children to leave the house. Many children are living in vacant schools.

“There is no safety and security in these schools,” he said. “People are always worried that someone might come in. They can be robbed – something can happen.”

Mark Bonomo, director of international programs and partnerships at SOS Children’s Village Canada, which is working with unaccounted and isolated children in the region, said the organization was “committed to sexual violence targeting women and girls in the Tigray region”. “Horrifying and worrying” is listening to the report.

“And we are hearing that there is not much assistance for survivors of that violence to receive mental-health and psychosocial assistance or medical treatment and follow-up,” he said in an interview.

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Schools that have taken refuge in many, he said, have limited access to water and proper sanitation facilities. And with families and community members living in tight quarters, the risk of same-sex-based violence increases.

“We can provide them temporary shelter, and make sure they are safe while we work to reunite them with their families,” he said.

Mr. Bonomo called on the Canadian federal government to provide more aid to humanitarian aid in Tigray.

Guillum Dumas, a spokesman for International Development Minister Kareena Gold, said that Canada has been concerned about the situation in Ethiopia since the beginning and responded immediately.

“In November 2020, we provided $ 3 million of new support to veteran humanitarian partners to help respond to the immediate needs of emergency health care, shelter and non-food items, water and sanitation, and safety arising from the crisis. Announced, “Mr. Dumas said in a statement.

Mr. Dumas said that Ms. Gold also announced in March that Canada would contribute $ 34 million in humanitarian aid to Ethiopia this year. She added that Tiger includes funds to support health services, safe water and family reunification for conflict-affected people, as well as health and nutrition, education and protection for mothers and children in crisis-hit Ethiopia.

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“Canada continues to urge all sides to protect civilians, to ensure that human rights, humanitarian access and international law are respected, and that a peaceful resolution of the conflict is sought,” he said .

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