How Idris was Born
By: Hellen Tesfamariam
February 12, 2004

The story I am about to relate brings tears to my eyes because I cannot believe this type of cruelty exists in this world. Bombs and guns intended for the enemy soldier could kill innocent villagers residing in the surrounding areas. That, during wars, is often described as "collateral damage". This story is not about "collateral damage", this is about the pure inhumanity of man towards his neighbor! Little Idris, with a big scar accross his forhead will be telling this story all his life. For those who have access to Eri-TV and saw yesterdays program, you will know what I'm talking about. For those who don't, brace yourselves as I relate a level of cruelty unheard of in the civilized world.

We've all heard of the Ethiopian Government's frequent incursions into Eritrean territories, dismantling of local administrations there and setting up their own - a sort of brute-force approch of creating "facts-on-the-grond". One of the most talked about is their incursions into Adi Murug, Eritrea, several times since 1991, but most recently in 1997. What we don't often hear about is what happens to the people that live there. What does it mean when you wake up one morning and life as you knew it has changed? Where can your cattle graze? Where can you farm? Where do you go to school? Where is the new government office? Where is the new clinic?

In Eritrean villages like Adi Murug, for normal childbirths, a mid-wife in the village helps with the delivery. If there are any complications, there are clinics within reach from which experienced medical personnel can intervene. Well, this was the norm before the Tigrayans took over. Idris' mother was in intense labor for three days when a new Tigrayan (Northern Ethiopian) Administration forcefully took over Adi Murug in 1997. Idris' mother was suffering and in need of medical attention - little Idris' forhead was protruding, leaving him stuck in the birth canal. The clinic, which was staffed with capable medical personnel was a walking distance away, but not within the territories forcefully taken over by the Tigrayans. The family members and the mid-wife were unable to convince the new administration to let them allow the medical personnel to reach Idris' mother. The Eritreans at the clinic warned that both the mother and child's life was in danger. The Tigrayans insisted that since she was in Tigrayan territory the Eritrean medical personnel had no rights to attend to her. Idris' mother suffered and eventually lost consiousness from pain and fatigue. With Idris stuck and a mother unable to act, the mid-wife was left with a life and death situation all around. Idris, she assumed was a goner and the least she could do was try to help save the mother's life. She had no medical instruments, no vacuum suction, no forceps to help pull little Idris out. The brave mid-wife used the only tools she had available - her teeth. Yes, the mid-wife bit into Idris' forhead, puncturing a wound deep enough to expose his little skull. Then, having something to grasp on to, she dug her fingers into his open wound and pulled the little baby out. My heart goes out to the brave mid-wife who had to make such a difficult decision and do the unthinkable. By the grace of God, both mother and child survived. Idris is a beautiful miracle child that survived despite the cruel inhumanity of an invading neighbor.

Stories like Idris' need to be told - they are the human consequences of ill-defined borders. As long as the border is not demarcated, Eritreans run the risk of future Adi-Murug type incursions and with it all the cruelty and indifference invaders bring.