In his Stockholm apartment, Desta Haileselassie applies his computer science background and research skills, compiling a list of Tigrayan victims, name by name.

The man who counts the dead sees them everywhere, reports the Associated Press.

They’re in the handwritten lists of names smuggled out of a region cut off from the world by war. They’re in the images of people shot and tossed off a cliff, tortured and pushed into a river, left unburied for days. They’re announced by grieving families in social media posts.

They are the first thing he sees in the morning when he checks his messages. They are the last thing he sees at night, when they enter his dreams.

He has been living with the dead for a year, since war erupted last November in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. Tigrayans, a minority of some 6 million, were encircled as a falling-out with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner, turned deadly. It became an ethnic clash when Amhara fighters from a neighboring region allied with Ethiopia’s government poured in.

Many Tigrayans joined the fight. But the man who counts the dead is in Sweden and could not.

 

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