Dr Elias Gebru on IDPs crises: “It was a harsh reality to observe.”

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CORRECTION / People who fled the war from May Tsemre, Addi Arkay and Zarima gather around in a temporarily built internally displaced people (IDP) camp to receive their first bags of wheat from the World Food Programme (WFP) in Debark, 90 kilometres of the city of Gondar, Ethiopia, on September 15, 2021. (Photo by Amanuel Sileshi / AFP) / ìThe erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by Amanuel Sileshi has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [Debark, 90 kilometres of the city of Gondar] instead of [Dabat, 70 kilometres northeast of the city of Gondar]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require.î

Dr. Elias Gebru is emerging as a key figure among the volunteer doctors who took the initiative to organize the first medical volunteers for IDP centers last month after the liberation of states seized by the TPLF.

Since the war began on November 3, 2020, counting up to over 2 million people have been internally displaced from their homes.

According to the DTM and partner datasets analysis, there is a pressing need to deal with growing food insecurity, mainly to assist those displaced and provide shelter, water, sanitation, hygiene, and other non-food items in the overcrowded sites across the congested sites in the conflict-affected area.

Since the beginning of the crisis, IOM has monitored the humanitarian and displacement situation through monthly area-based assessments, which capture the number of displaced persons and their locations and needs to inform the broader humanitarian response.

Dr. Elias – the author of several books and part of an emergency medical team – says having to witness what people are going through in the most war-torn areas of Ethiopia could be an overwhelming experience. The group initially recognized the bounds of constraints, leaving them little time and resources for much else, including medical care, trauma treatment, clothing, and shelter.

“At first, it had a lot of mixed feelings of sadness, resentment, pain, and anger. It was a harsh reality to observe,” he stated

“But as the catastrophe continued, his volunteer work expanded – starting from the assessment of the service gaps in the IDP centers, not to mention most of the centers are schools, there could be around 4000 IDPs in one center or school, which makes it extremely tough since they have no adequate food, sanitation, and absolutely no medical treatment and facilities.”

As the first medical team to witness and assess the IDP centers, the burden of constructing and facilitating needed services have fallen on citizens, leaving them little time and resource for much else.

“I was struck…on ethnic-based justice, on every aspect of justice, [Ethiopia’s Tigray war] was an epitome of all of the issues. At the same time, it was also clear to me that it would exacerbate these things. The need for help is there, but our hands are tight regarding professional service.

Initially, The project started with initiation for assessment on the IDP centers, observing the process, and having a clear image of what’s needed and what gaps need to be filled.

The project began with only 15 doctors now expanded to twenty-five; 2 or 3 doctors are appointed in one area. Most individuals are already working with the Ministry of Health, but we still need volunteer professionals.

Several volunteer groups are trying to help, but the problem is they are not organized and don’t have a pattern, so everything that was happening was redundant to some extent.

Our team observed the psychosocial problem, and people have major psychological trauma that requires intense follow-up by health professionals.

Despite the scale of the task, Dr. Elias says the growing recognition of the crisis and the links being built between psychological trauma should not be left unrecognized. Psychological trauma experienced during the war had an unprecedented toll on the people, many of whom could suffer for the rest of their lives.

The public perception of PTSD is still rooted in this past, and some of the problems discovered during the war regarding psychological trauma have not yet been answered.

These ranged from distressing memories that people found difficult to forget.
The origins of this trauma are beyond measure. We visited IDP centers in shewa Robit, Debre Berhan, Ataye, mehal meda and debrissina and dessie.

There is a need for urgent assistance across 265 accessible locations in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and neighboring Afar and Amhara, according to data collected by the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM).

“Most of the current centers are schools; there could be around 4000 IDPs in one center or school, which makes it extremely tough since they have no adequate food, sanitation, and absolutely no medical treatment and facilities. Toilets are dysfunctional, and hygiene is not considered although several refugees have returned after the liberation of their cities.”

As the situation worsens, people become disillusioned with an approach that- as they saw it had become dominated by the burdens the victims are going through at this moment.

Due to the shortage of medical professionals, we sent one or two doctors to different places for one IDP center, the psychosocial team in Debre Berhan for permanent therapy center, to the future establishment of psychiatry treatment centers.

“There are people who lost families, friends, siblings, and parents, including sexual violence. You can only imagine the trauma they have experienced and have to deal with.”

Currently, we are partnering with Esat TV, providing us funds and other needed support as a partner for the long term.

In the coming months, he argues, the key will be to provide suitable treatment for civilians affected by the war, including the donation of food, clothing, and, more importantly, Psychiatry treatment.

Our team is also working on an additional project involving traditional herbs to treat patients. Nubia Integrated Sustainable Development Organization (NISDO) is an NGO that supports clinical research for mental health and consciousness centers using Ethiopian herbal traditional medication.

We are done with most things, dealing with international organizations for funds and supply. We have already acquired our license and linked with well-known traditional healers regarding conventional herbs. Now we are looking for land for farming hemp and other herbs.

currently working with the Jimma administration zone, they have already agreed to give us the ground, but the conflict held it back.We have observed around 1400 herb types that can be used for psychedelic treatment, Psychiatry, and treatment for illness.

“This is the right time for people to be united, it convinced people that something better is possible, that things can and do change,” he said. “That is the task facing us now … Building a nation is about collective action, about solidarity and it can be done.”

 

 

 

 

 

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