Mass deaths in Wi’a concentration/training camp

Famine is not only affecting the civilian population, but also those in the national service.

The conditions in Wi’a concentration/training camp in the past 7- 9 months have worsened more than any other time. Food rations were reduced further to 3 pieces of sorghum bread per person per day without any supplements such as sauce except limited ration of tea. The shortage of food is compounded by the closure of the camp for family visits which used to facilitate the supply of food from families and relatives to the prisoners/trainees. The shortage of food combined with the very poor sanitation conditions, harsh environmental conditions, fatigue resulting from training exercises and almost non-existent health facilities and health care services in the camp has lead to sustained outbreaks of meningitis, typhoid and scabies resulting in alarming mass deaths.

Most of the deaths are mainly attributed to meningitis. Meningitis has been in the camp even before three years and had killed many but it has never been in this scale before. The death rate increased from June onwards and continued at alarming rate until the camp was closed in September. After hesitating for long, the government has finally decided to close the camp as an emergency measure after many (estimated to be in hundreds) have died. It is difficult to know how many have exactly died but sources from the camp tell that initially 37 people have died in the spot without being transferred to the Gedem military hospital near Massawa. Hundreds were transferred to Gedem hospital but the majority of them have not survived indicating that the death toll is in hundreds.

The latest information that I have got concerning the mass death in Wia is tha the death rate per day had in some days reached 26. This daily mortality average includes those who died in the camp and those who died after being transferred to Gedem hospital and other Hospitals in Massawa.

Following the closure of the camps, the trainees have been moved to Me’etir (60 km North of Afabet), Sawa (only females), Ala Hashferai (near the town of Hagaz) keloma (near the port town of Asab) to continue their trainings. These training camps fall under the direct commands of the recently structured commands. Keloma is under the eastern command, Ala under central command, Hashferai under Western command and Sawa and Me’etir under northern command. I do not have information on the conditions of the training camps under these commands.

Similarly, the conditions in Sawa have worsened because of the extreme shortage of food supply and the trainees (or students as the government calls them) that have got access to call to their families are urging their families to send them food urgently. And it is not yet known whether the government will take the necessary measures to improve the conditions in Sawa training camp before the experience of Wia camp is being repeated there.

Source Update on Famine Situation