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DATE=4/9/99 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT NUMBER=5-43068 TITLE=ERITREA DISPLACED BYLINE=SCOTT STEARNS DATELINE=MAI WURAY, ERITREA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: FIGHTING BETWEEN ETHIOPIA AND ERITREA HAS DISPLACED THOUSANDS OF CIVILIANS. REGIONAL EFFORTS TO END THE WAR ARE MAKING LITTLE PROGRESS. VOA'S SCOTT STEARNS IS IN ERITREA AND HAS A REPORT TEXT: THE TOWN OF TSORONA IS DESERTED. NINE KILOMETERS FROM THE FRONT, ROWS OF CINDERBLOCK HOUSES STAND SILENT. MARKET STALLS ARE EMPTY, THE GREEN METAL DOORS OF THE STAR CAFE BARRED SHUT. MORE THAN 20-THOUSAND PEOPLE LEFT THEIR HOMES AFTER ETHIOPIAN SHELLING IN DECEMBER. NOW THEY ARE LIVING IN TENTS ALONG SHEER ROCK CLIFFS, STAYING OFF THE SCRUB FLATLAND BECAUSE ITS EASIER TO BE BOMBED FROM THE AIR. AHFEROM TOLDE IS THE GOVERNOR OF THE TSORONA SUB-REGION. /// AHFEROM ACT /// IT WAS A SUDDEN ACTION, SO THE FIRST THING TO DO WAS TO LOOK FOR SHADE, WATER, AND SAFETY, SO THIS IS ONE OF THE PLACES THAT WE SAW. FIRST THEY CAME AND LIVED UNDER TREES. IN THE MIDDLE IS NOT SAFE. ON THE SIDES OF THE HILLS IT IS ALWAYS SAFER, SO THIS IS WHAT WE DO. /// END ACT /// GOVERNOR AHFEROM HAS DIVIDED THE PEOPLE OF TSORONA INTO THREE DIFFERENT SITES FOR SAFETY AND BECAUSE NO ONE PLACE HERE COULD SUPPORT SO MANY PEOPLE. AROUND THE SMALL STONE VILLAGE OF MAL WURAY, THE GOVERNMENT TRUCKS-IN WATER AND TIMBER, TRYING TO KEEP PEOPLE FROM WALKING OFF TOO FAR INTO THE HAZOMO PLAIN. /// SECOND AHFEROM ACT /// THERE IS SCARCITY OF WATER. THE SOURCE OF WATER THAT WE HAD HERE WAS MEANT TO SERVE FOR ABOUT 100 FAMILIES. NOW WE BROUGHT 15-HUNDRED FAMILIES ON TOP OF THEM. THEY CAME WITH THEIR CATTLE HERDS. SO GRASS IS ALSO ANOTHER PROBLEM ... AND WHEN THEY COME TO THIS PLACE THEY ARE GOING TO CUT TREES. /// END ACT /// ERITREANS APPEAR TO BE HANDLING THE SITUATION THEMSELVES. //OPT// THERE ARE NO U-N RATION CARDS, NO OXFAM WATER PROJECT, NO M-S-F SUPPLEMENTAL FEEDING CENTER, NO NUTRITIONAL SURVEY FOR WHAT THE AID COMMUNITY WOULD CALL THESE INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS. //END OPT// WITH A FEW ARMY TRUCKS, ERITREAN FAMILIES MOVED AS MUCH AS THEY COULD TO THEIR TENTS AT MAI WURAY. WITH THE WAR COMING CLOSER, HAILLE BEYENE SAYS THERE WAS NO WAY THEY COULD STAY IN TSORONA.. /// HAILLE ACT IN TIGRINIAN -- ESTABLISH AND FADE /// MR. HAILLE SAYS WHEN THE ETHIOPIANS STARTED SHELLING AROUND TSORONA, "WE HAD TO SAVE OUR LIVES, SO WE CAME SOMEWHERE SAFE UNDER THE ROCKS." WITH NINE CHILDREN TO CARE FOR, MR. HAILLE SAYS IT IS HARD TO FIND THE MONEY WHEN YOU ARE NOT LIVING AT HOME AND THE LOCAL ECONOMY HAS BEEN DISRUPTED. /// SOUND OF SEWING MACHINE --UP UNDER, ESTABLISH AND FADE /// NOW, MR. HAILLE IS SEWING PINK FLOWERED DRESSES ON AN OLD PEDAL MACHINE IN A SHOP HE SHARES WITH HIS BROTHER. //OPT// PROTECTED FROM THE SUN BY PLASTIC SHEETING, IT IS A SURPRISINGLY WELL-STOCKED LITTLE SHOP WITH DOZENS OF BOLTS OF BRIGHT POLYESTER MATERIAL, "CAPTAIN MAJID" TRACK SUITS FROM SAUDI ARABIA, AND A BLACK "SPICE GIRLS" T-SHIRT FLAPPING ON A CROOKED METAL HANGER. //END OPT// HIS BROTHER'S WIFE SELLS TOMATOES AND ONIONS THEY GET FROM VILLAGES FARTHER NORTH. MR. HAILLE SAYS THEY HAVE TO DO SOMETHING FOR SOME LITTLE MONEY FOR SUGAR. YOU CAN NOT JUST SIT HERE AND EXPECT TO BE SUPPORTED FOREVER BY THE GOVERNMENT. //OPT// SOLDIERS DRINK IN BARS ALONG THE SMALL COMMERCIAL STRETCH UNDER THE ROCKS ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE CANYON. IN A STICK STALL COVERED WITH THATCH, ADANESH ZIGTA SELLS CIGARETTES AND LAUNDRY SOAP. /// ADANESH ACT IN TIGRINIAN -- ESTABLISH AND FADE /// "WE HAVE GOT BIG PROBLEMS HERE," SHE SAYS. "WE HAVE NOTHING. THE GOVERNMENT BRINGS WATER, BUT THERE IS STILL A SHORTAGE, IT IS SO HOT DURING THE DAY, THEN THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH BLANKETS FOR WHEN IT GETS COLD AT NIGHT. IT IS NO WAY TO LIVE," SHE SAYS, NO WAY FOR HER FIVE-YEAR-OLD GRANDSON TO LIVE WHO SHE HAD HOPED WOULD START SCHOOL THIS YEAR. //END OPT// THE WAR BETWEEN ETHIOPIA AND ERITREA HAS DISPLACED MORE THAN 100-THOUSAND CIVILIANS -- PEOPLE WHO ONCE FOUGHT TOGETHER AGAINST DICTATOR MENGISTU HAILLE MARIAM, NOW BATTLING EACH OTHER ACROSS THEIR DRY, ROCKY BORDER. //OPT// WITH ERITREAN INDEPENDENCE FROM ETHIOPIA IN 1993, HAILLE BEYENE SAYS EVERYONE EXPECTED THE FIGHTING TO STOP. /// SECOND HAILLE ACT IN TIGRINIAN -- ESTABLISH AND FADE UNDER TEXT /// "BOTH COUNTRIES HAD PEACE," HE SAYS. "WE NEVER EXPECTED THIS PROBLEM NOW WITH THE ETHIOPIANS. I CAN'T UNDERSTAND WHY THERE IS WAR, IT IS LIKE A DREAM." //END OPT// THESE PLAINS NORTH OF THE MEREB RIVER HAVE SEEN PLENTY OF COMBAT OVER THE LAST 30 YEARS. FLUSH WITH SOVIET SUPPORT, THE MENGISTU ARMY PUSHED ERITREANS BACK TOWARD THE CAPITAL ASMARA IN THE LATE 1970'S. ERITREANS DROVE SOUTH THROUGH TSORONA IN THEIR FINAL PUSH ON THE ETHIOPIAN CAPITAL IN 1991. //OPT// GOVERNOR AHFEROM KNOWS PEOPLE ARE NOT HAPPY AT MAL WURAY. HE SAYS HE ALSO KNOWS THEY WILL GET THROUGH THIS WAR -- AS THEY HAVE GOTTEN THROUGH CONFLICT IN THE PAST. /// THIRD AHFEROM ACT /// THESE PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO ARE AROUND TSORONA KNOW WHAT BATTLE IS BECAUSE BEFORE INDEPENDENCE, THIS WAS ALSO ONE OF THE MAJOR BATTLE AREAS BETWEEN US AND THE ETHIOPIANS. THEY HAVE NOT FORGOT THEIR PAST. /// END ACT /// //END OPT// ERITREA AND ETHIOPIA HAVE BOTH ACCEPTED AN ORGANIZATION OF AFRICAN UNITY PLAN TO ARBITRATE THEIR BORDER DISPUTE. BOTH SIDES BLAME THE OTHER FOR CONTINUING THE WAR. (SIGNED) NEB/SKS/PCF 09-Apr-99 7:09 AM EDT (1109 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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