For Houzen, the battle is part of a larger war in the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray between government forces and Tigris fighters, which has led to massacres and gang rapes of more than 2 million people in a region of more than 2 million. Although the government now has many urban centers, fierce fighting continues in remote rural towns such as Houzen.
When both sides fight, civilians, especially children, suffer. More and more children are being shot in Housen and other surrounding areas, and at least between December 32 and April, they were admitted to Meckele Aider Hospital in the regional capital.
According to official records, thirteen limbs were amputated.
Haftom Gebru, a 12-year-old boy from Havtents, was wounded in the wreckage during a fight during Orthodox Easter. The artillery shell hit a pile of stones in a part of the family, which then ricocheted in the direction of the boy. When his 60-year-old father, Gebrou Welde Abrahan, saw the boy’s injured left arm, he knew it had to be amputated.
“I’m so sad that I can not explain it,” said the father in the hospital ward as his son looked away angrily. “I feel it deeply.”
Haftom Gebretsadik, a 17-year-old from the town of Frevin near Havzen, was also wounded in an artillery shelling on his home in March. He calmly looked at the trunk of his right arm and shook his head.
“I am very worried,” he said. “How can I work?”
Some of the victims of the blast could have saved their limbs if they had received first aid at nearby health centers. But such objects are projectiles right now, systematically looted, vandalized, turned upside down.
Eritrean troops have set up camp at Hausen Primary Hospital, which once boasted equipment ranging from X-ray machines to pediatric incubators. Now it is a loot և looted.
“It’s a bad feeling I have as a Tigrayan,” said Messinia Hagos, 27, now an unemployed technician.
“This hospital used to serve thousands of people … Now it is ruined.”