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Resilience Amidst Crisis: Inside the Life of Diba and her family as one of Ethiopia's Displaced Families

Posted on 18 Jun 2024

Diba Zara (name changed for safety reasons), a 40-year-old woman, is one of approximately half a million internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in and around Shire Town in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia. Before the Tigray conflict erupted in 2020, Diba enjoyed a fulfilling and prosperous life with her husband and five children in Adi Goshu, Kafta Humera woreda. She earned an average monthly income of about ETB 100,000 (nearly USD 1800) and never faced financial worries.

However, the 2022 Tigray conflict turned her life upside down. On a day that was supposed to be joyful, as she prepared for her child’s Christening party, artillery and drone attacks shattered the peace. "I felt like my world had collapsed," Diba recalls. She grabbed her children and joined the exodus where they sought safety in Shire Town.

The journey to Shire was perilous and grueling. They walked for three consecutive days and nights and surviving off the land. Crossing the Tekeze River to reach Asgede Woreda, Mihsansa Town, was a significant relief. There, a wealthy traveler among them paid for transportation and they finally arrived in Shire Town, exhausted, confused and uncertain.

Diba recalls, “I owe my life and the lives of my family to Shire residents who provided us everything we needed to survive.” She, her family and other IDPs relied on the residents for survival while staying on a university campus for several months. During this time, she was reunited with her husband and children after six months of separation. In May 2022, the IDPs were moved to the Aba Woyane IDP site, where they received sporadic aid, that was always insufficient. “The aid comes once in a while and when it does, we pay everything we receive as assistance to our creditors who gave us loans for survival,” Diba says sadly.


My room had neither proper walls nor a door. It made me vulnerable to robbery and attacks by lunatics or drunk people

/  Diba

Their makeshift home, originally a school building, lacked basic amenities like beds, mattresses, blankets and bed sheets. To meet their basic needs, IDPs often resort to begging on the streets. Diba’s situation was further aggravated by the risks posed by their inadequate shelter.

Diba is among 500 individuals who benefited from a cash-for-rent scheme under the project “Integrated Humanitarian Assistance for conflict- and displacement-affected communities in Ethiopia,” funded by the European Union. The project aims to provide comprehensive support to those who have experienced or are at risk of violence and human rights violations, thereby reducing protection risks. Services include case management (mental health and psychosocial support, legal assistance, security planning), individual protection assistance (one-time support, cash, or in-kind aid), and protection desk services such as Psychological First Aid (PFA), referrals, and signposting. To address housing and shelter concerns, DRC provides housing support through cash-for-rent or shelter kits, ensuring displaced populations have access to safe and appropriate housing with the help of technical shelter staff.

Thankfully, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), with funds from the European Union, came to her aid. They constructed proper walls around her room and installed a lockable door. “DRC’s intervention made a huge difference in my life,” Diba says. With the new security measures, Diba and her family could finally sleep peacefully.

Although Diba’s current life is far from what she dreams of, the added safety has made it a bit more bearable. Her ultimate dream is to return home and rebuild her family’s life.

Diba's house before and after DRC's intervention

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