Ethiopia: Tigray residents wait half a day to make a phone call

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AFPCopyright: AFP People in Tigray's capital, Mekelle, have struggled to talk to people outside the region as phone lines have been cut
AFPCopyright: AFP People in Tigray's capital, Mekelle, have struggled to talk to people outside the region as phone lines have been cut
By:BBC AFRICA
It has been two months since electricity, telephone, internet, banking and transport services were cut in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region.
Since then, it has become increasingly difficult to get information about the situation in Tigray.
But some, who have managed to reach an area close to neighbouring region, Afar, have shared some details.
According to people interviewed by the BBC, it has become difficult to meet friends and family or go to work.
There is a lack of jobs and the cost of living is going up, including the cost of wood, which is being used for cooking.
Petrol is also scarce, making it hard to travel around.
“Because of the high price of food and the lack of money, people are living by helping each other,” one woman told the BBC.
“I have neighbours who eat dry bread. Many people are in trouble because they can’t get money.”
In order to get around the communications blackout, people are moving east out of the capital, Mekelle, to search for a phone signal.
One man explained how he called his younger brother who is living abroad.
“In a large area, many people are sitting and trying to make a phone call.
“Most people wait half a day to make a call. I think because there are too many people, the network is weak. I waited eight hours, and got the chance to say: ‘Brother, we’re fine.’”
The lack of banking services and electricity is also hampering people’s lives.
The head of Ethio-Telecom, Frehiwot Tamiru, says the conflict makes it difficult to resume its services.
Speaking to the BBC’s Hard Talk programme recently, Ethiopia’s Attorney General Gideon Timothy said telecom workers were under attack in Tigray.
The TPLF, which is fighting the federal government in Tigray, says the authorities have deliberately cut off communications.
The TPLF says it is the legitimate governing party in the region, while the government has declared it a terrorist organisation.

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