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Humanitarian Shares the Turmoil of Refugee Children Caused by the Ethiopian Civil War

 A well-known Shreveport humanitarian sounds the alarm of a growing crisis of a civil war that has left hundreds of thousands dead, displace, and in need of help.

“When I was there, I saw people who had lost their hope,” Velma Kirksey-Tarver, founder of the Institute for Global Outreach said.

This immense crisis has called Kirksey-Tarver to action.

She is known for her Shreveport-based nonprofit the Institute for Global Outreach also known as IGO. Its mission aims to alleviate suffering across the globe.

For the past 14 years, she has traveled to African nations meeting with partners on the ground to help mothers, children, and students in desperate situations. The organization helps families in extreme poverty. Its provided aid to hundreds of people over the years. On a recent journey, she was told by locals to visit a refugee camp in Debre Berhan, Ethiopia to see a growing refugee crisis firsthand.

“You just can’t unsee it. The circumstances were far beyond what I do for IGO and yet once I saw so much suffering I felt like the one thing I could do is come back here to make more people aware of something most people are unaware of,” Kirksey-Tarver said.

They are victims of the Ethiopian Civil War that ravaged the country for the past two years.

The United Nations estimates 600,000 people have died with thousands fleeing into refugee camps which have reached overcapacity.

“This camp became so overfilled with so many individuals that were looking for food, for shelter, for help,” Kirksey-Tarver said.

Families are forced to live in unsanitary conditions because it is their only means of survival.

“The floor is dirt and when it rains they just get rained on and they’ve been out in those camps for over a year,” Kirksey-Tarver said.

The refugee camp in Debre Berhan houses one thousand orphans.

“To look into the faces of these children and realize they have no one,” she said.

A thousand children with constant hunger in their eyes. “They are so extremely hungry,” she said.

Child victims of war, are traumatized as a result of ongoing conflict and no access to basic needs.

“It’s moving to see a child that sad. Totally distraught, they are lonely, confused, and in shock because they have seen so much turmoil.”

Kirksey-Tarver was told 17,000 refugees now live inside the camp. 4,000 of those are children who still have their mothers but the women are barely surviving themselves and left desolate.

“You see mothers with children who are hungry and they want to nurse but they don’t have milk because they are malnourished as well. You see the embarrassment in the women’s faces because their thinking … this is what my life has come to.”

Kirksey-Tarver said in all of her travels over the years, the visit to Debre Berhan was like a gut punch of pain. Sorrowing for her fellow man has stirred her to call for worldwide help.

“The community there is doing what they can but there is only so much they can do as a developing country.”

Kirksey-Tarver explains that her organization of IGO is to alleviate suffering, but the suffering she witnessed in the Debre Berhan camp was so great it toppled the abilities of her nonprofit’s power.

“We have animals that live better than these people are living and the conditions they are in, and you look in their faces and realize they are ashamed because they come from their own homes, they had families, they had crops. There were doctors or lawyers, teachers, and public leaders. But then they are totally wiped out and had to leave on foot with whatever they had.”

She wants to raise awareness of the consequences of this deadly conflict.

She calls on Louisiana leaders and leaders across the country along with donors with giving hearts to feel the pain of a foreign country, and its people, and imagine it is your child left like that.

“I just hope that somehow they can receive enough support to start to restore their lives.”

You can help the families seen in this story by supporting The Institute for Global Outreach with a monetary donation via PayPal.

Source : News WKRG