Teresa Tsfa gave birth on the road, alone, under a hot sun, after walking for seven hours.
Passers-by found her, gave her clean clothes and bathed her newborn son in a puddle.
The 25-year-old is one of many tens of thousands of refugees who are fleeing Ethiopia, each with their own tale of horror and hardship.
Teresa eventually made it to Um Rakouba camp in Sudan, but her husband is in custody back in Ethiopia and she knows not where her seven-year-old is.
They fled together in panic, but became separated.
“He was left behind when I came. I got scared and ran. When we came on the road there were shots, I gave birth.”
Her new son is 14 days old, but she is struggling to feed him.
There are 6000 people in the Um Rakouba camp, 40,000-plus in Sudan altogether, an estimated 100,000 in neighbouring Eritrea.
Almost half the refugees are children under 18. Around 700 women are pregnant.
Blaines Alfao Eileen, at eight months, is one of them.
She walked for four days from Mai-Kadra.
Her friend, Lemlem Haylo Rada, has a similar story to Teresa’s.
She also lost her husband and was forced to deliver a child on the roadside, a baby girl.
The 24-year-old is also struggling to breastfeed her newborn daughter.
“I have no milk for her and she cries all night and I have no clothes. I actually have nothing. I only have this dress and I do not even have underwear,” she said.
Food and water is running scarce, there is little protection from the blazing sun and the threat of hostilities is never far away.
The Ethiopian government is attempting to purge the north of the country of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which in turn wants to govern the region.
“The conditions here are pretty dire and it’s a pretty desperate community that are in need here,” Will Carter, who is representing the Norwegian Refugee Fund in the camp, says.
“So sudden was the displacement, many are missing family members, they were separated or understood that they are dead unfortunately.
“People have come in all sorts of conditions with absolutely nothing.
“No money. No more clothes. No food, no contact with people.”
Javanshir Hajiyev, of the Mercy Corps aid organisation, says: “Just to imagine for everything, literally for everything starting from your food ending with your water drinking, ending just to go for the toilet facilities and washing your hands, for everything you depend on somebody else. This is really a very dire situation. I can’t stress much how difficult it is.”
Ethiopia is no stranger to humanitarian disasters, of course, and another one is unfolding right now.
From peace prize to civil war
The Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, for bringing to an end a 17-year conflict with northern neighbour Eritrea.
But his campaign against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front has nevertheless been brutal.
Tigrayans once ran Ethiopia, which is now the world’s second most populous country in Africa behind only Nigeria, with a population of 114 million.
But the presence of their independent-minded rebels is no longer welcome and Ethiopia has now entered the “final stage” of a “law enforcement” military operation, according to the prime minister’s office.
The conflict is focused on the city of Mekelle, where a 72-hour deadline to surrender passed on Thursday – and its half a million residents are being told to leave the city or face the consequences.
Mr Ahmed sanctioned air strikes, one of which hit the university and wounded some students.
“We have completed the mountainous battles and we are at the chapter where it is downhill from now,” Colonel Dejene Tsegaye said.
“The war from here onwards is by tanks.
“We call on the people of Mekelle to protect themselves, separate themselves from the junta.
“After that, there is no mercy. The junta is hiding among the community and the community must distance itself from the junta.
“The community is expected to tell the junta ‘get away from me’ and ‘don’t get me wiped out’.”
Redwan Hussien, State of Emergency spokesperson, said: “It is human that people would take a right choice. A choice which saves themselves, a choice which saves their future. Because now that the TPLF leadership are hiding out in densely populated city, a slightest strike would end up losing lives or properties or sacred places.”
But Debretsion Gebremichael, the Tigray Regional President, insisted: “Our new force is getting stronger and more powerful. It is acquiring additional weaponry and building its capacity. It is making history. But this is not a battle of armies. This is a civil war. And all of us as Tigrayans by supporting each other, side by side with our army, we must defend this and complete the victory.”
The UN World Food Program cannot obtain access to Mekelle, where it has warehouses.
And a lack of electricity, telecommunications and access to fuel and cash is hampering other humanitarian efforts
The international community is pleading for immediate de-escalation. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, have been killed.
“Next to the casualties, the danger of a major humanitarian crisis is imminent,” European Union commissioner for crisis management Janez Lenarcic tweeted.
Mr Ahmed has rejected international “interference”.
His government has said three high-level African Union envoys can meet with him, but not with the Tigray leaders.
Human Rights Watch is warning that “actions that deliberately impede relief supplies” violate international humanitarian law.
Tigrayan leaders have also accused federal forces of killing innocent civilians while targeting churches and homes.
“The highly aggressive rhetoric on both sides regarding the fight for Mekelle is dangerously provocative and risks placing already vulnerable and frightened civilians in grave danger,” UN high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, said in a statement.
The conflict has meantime spread to Eritrea, where the TPLF has fired rockets, and also Somalia, where Ethiopia has disarmed several hundred Tigrayans in a peacekeeping force fighting al Qaeda-linked militants.
And this week, confirmation emerged of an atrocity in Mai-Kadra, where earlier this month 600 ethnic civilians were murdered.
According to the Ethiopian Human rights Commission, youths, aided by local officials and police, went door to door, executing ethnic citizens.
Atsbaha Gtsadik, another refugee in Um Rakouba, said: “The country has no peace. It makes me so sad. The country has no peace. You see one tribe killing another. It is so hard.”
– reported with AP