Fifteen-year-old Eysa Mohammed was collecting water near her home in northern Ethiopia’s Afar region when an explosion underfoot tore shrapnel into her leg, making her one of a growing number of children maimed by weapons discarded in the country’s civil war.
“So much blood was spilling from my right foot,” Eysa told Reuters in her family hut in the town of Kasagita. Doctors removed two large pieces of metal from her leg in February but she can no longer walk.
Fighting in northern Ethiopia, which began in November 2020 in the Tigray region and spilled over into Afar and the Amhara region last year, has eased since the end of March. The federal government declared a unilateral ceasefire last month in a war that has killed thousands of people. On April 25, Tigrayan forces announced they would withdraw from Afar.
But discarded explosives have maimed or killed scores of children in Afar even after open combat near Kasagita abated in December, three regional health officials told Reuters.
Adults have also been wounded, but the officials say there are more child victims because they are often not aware of the dangers and handle the strange looking items.
The health officials did not provide an exact total of injuries by unexploded ordnance in Afar. Around a fifth of its health facilities are not functional due to the fighting, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.