Conditions for hundreds of villagers hiding under trees and in caves high in Mount Jebel Marra are rapidly deteriorating. At least 32 children died of exhaustion, exposure to cold, and a lack of food.
On Wednesday seven Koran students arrived at Nierteti. Their Karmel Koran School, five kilometres east of Nierteti, was demolished in aerial bombardments last Thursday.
The seven students, aged between five and 20, told Radio Dabanga that three of their comrades were killed in the air raid that demolished the Koran school.
The survivors took a number of injured students with them to Kouji up in the mountain, as the way to Nierteti was blocked by militiamen. 14 of them, aged between eight and 15, succumbed to their wounds during the flight, the eldest reported to Radio Dabanga.
“A huge number of people were hiding in caves near Kouji. We waited five days and then managed to descend on Tuesday evening, and reach Nierteti on foot on Wednesday morning.”
He added that at least 13 children died in the caves near Kouji, Berbera, and Moro up in the mountain, “because of the lack of food and the cold”. He described the situation in and near the caves as disastrous.
“The people up in the mountain requested us, if we would manage to reach Nierteti, to tell relief organisations about their dire situation, and urge them to intervene as soon as possible.”
Northern Jebel Marra
People who fled the villages of Rufata, Taringa, and Tamara in the northern part of Jebel Marra also sought shelter under trees and in caves high into the mountain range. “Five infants, aged between eight months and five years, died of exhaustion, the biting cold, and a lack of food,” a villager informed Radio Dabanga.
He reported that he managed to reach Tabit with his family and others. “Most of the people who reached the camp for the displaced near Tabit fare ill with influenza, fever, and diarrhoea, especially the children.”
He appealed to the authorities in Tabit to “urgently provide water, food, shelter, and blankets”.