Displaced by the conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia

Shewit's story

Right now, one of the worst humanitarian crises is unfolding in Tigray, Ethiopia.

The crisis is driven by conflict, but food shortages and the constant threat of coronavirus are making it worse. Most displaced people are living in crowded schools, sleeping or dusty floors in abandoned buildings or sleeping outside.

Working with our partner IOM, we’re supporting people who have fled their homes within Tigray.

Read Shewit’s story of survival after she was displaced by the ongoing conflict.

Images credit: IOM/Kaye Viray

We met 32-year-old Shewit and her four children aged 15, 11, 7, and 3, at a displacement camp. Before arriving at the site, Shewit was a teacher. She said: “I enjoyed teaching a lot. I have always been good with children as a mum myself.”

When the moment came that her family were forced to flee, Shewit was busy at work. “I was in the middle of teaching when the fighting broke out. I took what I could but most importantly, I rushed to get my kids and fled.”

The next five days were terrifying for the family.

Shewit and her young children were forced to walk 80km to find a safer place to shelter. “We walked for five days, stopping in between to rest and eat. I was concerned about surviving, like all of those who fled. When we arrived at the internally displaced people’s site, local communities gave us bread, injera (flatbread), and water. We were truly grateful.”

2 women sat down in a tent
A woman at the entrance of a makeshift shelter

Four months on, Shewit is living with her children at a camp for internally displaced people. She explained: “With the new shelter provided by IOM and ShelterBox, our living conditions have improved a lot. We do not have to sit outside and fear for our safety anymore.”

Shewit described she was feeling “grateful and at ease” when collecting the aid items. She has found the most useful aid items to be the “cooking materials and the shelter because my children and I need to eat every day, even when it is hard to find food sometimes.

“The shelter protects us from the sun and also from the rain.”

With the addition of comfortable beds and blankets, Shewit made her shelter feel more like home.

An uncertain future

When asked about her greatest concern for the future, Shewit said she was anxious about, “the fear of the unknown”. Despite this, she hopes to teach again in the future, and she is also leading the Women’s Committee in the displacement camp.

But Shewit is not alone in feeling worried. Millions of people just like Shewit in Ethiopia are currently facing severe food shortages, threatening conflict as well as coronavirus.

Working hard with our partner IOM, we’re reaching vulnerable families in Tigray who desperately need help.

Support our work to help us reach more families in Ethiopia and beyond.

Images credit: IOM/Kaye Viray