Ethiopia: MSF denounces the “deliberate destruction” of hospitals in Tigray

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Addis Ababa | Health facilities in Ethiopia’s Tigray region have been “deliberately and widely destroyed”, and some are occupied by soldiers, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said in a statement on Monday.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, launched a military intervention in this region in early November aimed at overthrowing the local ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), accused of having had federal army bases attacked.

“The health care structures in the Ethiopian region of Tigray have been looted, vandalized and destroyed in a deliberate and generalized manner according to the observations of the Médecins Sans Frontières teams on the spot,” said the NGO in its press release.

She said she visited 106 establishments “between mid-December and early March”, 70% of which were “looted”. Only 13% of them “functioned normally”.

“One in five health establishments visited by MSF teams was occupied by soldiers. In some cases, this occupation was temporary, in others, it was continuing at the time of the visit, ”the text continues.

In Abiy Addi (center), the hospital was until early March occupied by Ethiopian forces, to treat their soldiers, says MSF, but in Mugulat (east), it is “Eritrean soldiers” who “use” the center. of local health as a military structure.

The presence of soldiers from Eritrea in Tigray, however widely reported on the ground, is denied by Addis Ababa and Asmara.

The “looting” continues, furthermore denounces MSF.

“At Adwa hospital, in the heart of the region, medical equipment, including ultrasound scanners and monitors, was deliberately broken,” adds the NGO.

She stresses that this situation has a hard impact on the local population, affected by insecurity and the absence of medical personnel, forced to go to less well-equipped centers, often on foot due to the requisition of ambulances by the soldiers.

“The health facilities must be rehabilitated and receive more equipment and ambulances, and the staff must be paid their salary and be able to work in a safe environment,” said Oliver Behn, MSF director general, calling for protection of this staff.

For its part, the Addis Ababa government said life was returning to normal in Tigray, including in the health sector.

In a statement released on Sunday evening, the government said 75% of hospitals in Tigray were “now operational” and 10% “partially functioning”.

Mr. Abiy proclaimed victory in Tigray at the end of November, after the capture of the regional capital Mekele, but TPLF leaders remain at large and fighting continues in the region.