The representatives of the committee formed by volunteers to coordinate and support the thousands of people on the run visited a small village town, Meket, about 220 km from Bahir Dar. Here, the government has set up a settlement centre for IDPs to relieve the pressure on Bahir Dar. Only those younger than 15 and older than 45 are allowed to stay here. The others are expected to either join the army for training or return to their homes in Lalibela.
Every day, an average of 200 people arrive in Meket or cross it towards Gaint and Debre Tabor. Most of them come from Lalibela and the surrounding villages to access a bank and to buy some basic consumer goods such as cooking ingredients, etc.
The committee provides them with transport to and from Lalibela and one night’s accommodation per day. These visits are especially important for those who have families. Many people have been separated from their families for more than three months.
Eligible people, especially the youth, are registered to receive a short basic military training so that they can join the militia to prepare for the fight against the occupying rebels, which will start soon.
The committee in Addis sends basic food items to IDPs who face significant shortages during their stay or while passing through Meket.
The journey from Meket to Lalibela is not easy. There are many risks along the way. Most people take this risk in the hope that they will receive help from benefactors or charities that are not allowed to operate in Meket anyway. They end up as beggars on the street. The cost of the journey itself is too high! For a round trip from Lalibela to Debre Tabor and back to Lalibela, they have to spend an average of 1400 Birr (1 franc is 51 Birr). A large part of the journey is made on foot.
The journey passes through Dibiko, a small village 35 km from Lalibela. This is where the TPLF fighters stay. Therefore, travelers have to pay 600 birr instead of the usual 40 birr for the round trip by tuk tuk (motorbike).
This is a place where the regional army camps and waits for the order to start the actual fighting. Deferge is a two-hour walk from Dibiko.
Meket is about 25 km from Deferge. Our committee of volunteers works from here. The committee takes care of transport from Meket to Deferge and vice versa.
This town is 120 km from Meket. Here there is a possibility to reach a bank and buy goods for the transport to Lalibela. The transport costs 400 Birr for the return journey and an additional 400 Birr for accommodation and meals on the way. The whole journey costs about 1400 Birr ($30) plus the fear, trauma and anxiety.
The committee asks car and truck owners to give people a lift, and fortunately many are willing to help, even if they pay for the fuel and the risk.
Accommodation and food
People need a place to rest after such a long and dangerous journey. There is a real need for a hall or rooms where people can stay overnight.
For those staying overnight in Meket, at least a simple evening meal is needed.
In addition to our involvement in Meket, there are also more people seeking our support in Bahir Dar.
We have 10 underage children (under 15) who have come to Bahir Dar alone and unaccompanied. They are taking part in our shelter and feeding programme.
We also have people who need medical treatment and support. Many of them have sustained injuries during their long journey, while some have chronic pre-existing conditions that we need to treat on a case-by-case basis.
Medical support for Lalibela
The committee regularly buys and sends medicines for primary care with the help of the government.
We are grateful that donors at PBF continue to help our people who are facing a terrible humanitarian crisis that has cost many lives. The aid is still desperately needed.
Trustee of PBF
Bahir Dar, Ethiopia