1/17/21-Finding Comfort in Music
Girum is a 20-year-old refugee from Tigray, a region in Ethiopia, who was forced to flee his home in early November to Sudan. This came after allegations of the Ethiopian government launching a military offense against the regional government of Tigray, sending in militia to kill the ethnic Tigrayans living there. While the government denies these claims, NPR reported that, in interviews with Tigrayans, they all shared similar stories of ethnic cleansing and violence. Complicating the situation even further is the thousands of Eritrean refugees living in Tigrayan refugee camps; these refugees are now also fleeing into Sudan because of the violence in Ethiopia.
Girum is one of thousands of Tigrayans who are flooding into Sudan, attempting to find safety from the persecution. As he was fleeing, Girum was forced to leave behind his kirar (a small, stringed instrument), but fortunately, a friend grabbed it for him, bringing it to Girum as they made their journey to Sudan. In the refugee camps in Sudan, the kirar is Girum's source of hope and light; it distracts from the fear and uncertainty of their situation while reminding him of the fond memories from his hometown. He dreams of becoming a musician and performer one day and explains that, "sometimes, when someone doesn't understand you, you can use music to talk to them."
After the Ethiopian prime minister recently urged Tigrayan refugees to return from Sudan, it is unclear whether or not they will remain in refugee camps or not. On January 15, the UNHCR head Filippo Grandi expressed concern for the safety of Eritrean refugees staying in the Tigray region, saying that there were major violations of international law at those camps.