Refugees in the1984 Korem Camp, Ethiopia.
Korem was the location of one of the early refugee camps of the 1984 – 1985 famine in Ethiopia, housing 35,500 children in April 1983. On 21 April, the TPLF raided the town, seizing humanitarian supplies and taking seven relief workers hostage, who included two British citizens from the Save the Children Fund. The hostages were released unharmed seven weeks later near the Sudan border, but Save the Children suspended operations in Korem until September of that year.
From July 1983 up to March 1984 the monthly death toll in the Korem camp stayed under 100; then it shot up until October 1984, when the daily death toll topped 100 a day. What food aid there was in Korem in October 1984 was from the European Commission. Along with the camp at Atsbi, conditions in Korem were shown on BBC television on 23 and 24 October. UN Secretary-General Pérez de Cuéllar and his wife visited the relief center in the following month. Although international assistance greatly improved conditions in the camp, they remained grim for the inmates, who were treated as prisoners. In January 1986, an estimated 12,000 of the camp population had fled into the surrounding hills for fear of being registered for involuntary resettlement.