In October of 1984 BBC correspondent Michael Buerk’s report from Korem, Ethiopia, was to become one of the most famous television reports of the 20th century. His description, “a biblical famine”, one that killed over a million people, galvanised the world’s attention and was the catalyst for ‘Live Aid’, Bob Geldorf’s 1985 concert extravaganza broadcast live around the world, the most ambitious international satellite television venture of its time. Three years later another famine crisis erupted. This time in the northern Tigray region bordering on Eritrea where rebel attacks on food convoys had halted essential supplies threatening an estimated 2.1 million Ethiopians with starvation.
I made my way to Mekelle, capital of Tigray, and out to feeding centres operated by worldwide NGO’s who had responded quickly to the emergency. Nearby a dam was under construction by men and women strong enough to work the excavation by hand. I watched in awe as they walked silently for many miles to and from the site.
Aside from the appalling hardship witnessed on this first visit to Ethiopia I was struck by the remarkable dignity of these humble, proud and elegant people. Their distinctive physical features are unmistakable. The manner in which they hold themselves, regardless of the most adverse conditions imaginable, impressed me immensely.
These pictures need no captions. They speak for themselves.
Copyright © Derek Hudson 2020
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