Ethiopia’s Tigray crisis: Hospitals ‘vandalised and looted’

Nearly 70% of health facilities in Ethiopia’s conflict-hit northern region of Tigray have been vandalised and equipment looted, a report by medical charity MSF has found.

The facilities were “deliberately” attacked to make them “non-functional”, Médecins Sans Frontières said.

The situation was having a “devastating” impact on the population, the organisation said in a statement.

The Ethiopian authorities say most health services have been restored.

Conflict erupted in Tigray on 4 November 2020 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered an offensive to oust the region’s former ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), after its fighters had captured federal military bases in the region.

Fighting continues despite Mr Abiy declaring victory at the end of November.

Africa Live: Updates on this and other stories from the continent
Medics on the run: ‘I hid in the woods to flee shooting’
How a massacre in Ethiopia’s sacred city unfolded
The situation in Tigray “remains extremely concerning” and the conflict continues to displace people, the UN’s humanitarian affairs agency (OCHA) said last week.

It added that although aid workers had now been able to access some parts of the region, “many people remain in hard-to-reach areas due to insecurity, logistical and administrative hurdles”.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed and tens of thousands displaced in the last five months, a situation that has sparked condemnation around the world.

Last month Amnesty International accused troops from neighbouring Eritrea of killing hundreds of people in the ancient city of Aksum on 28 and 29 November, saying the mass killings may amount to a crime against humanity.

What is the state of health centres in Tigray?

Only 13% of 106 facilities that teams from MSF visited between December and early March were operating normally.

They also found destroyed equipment, smashed doors and windows, and medicine and patient files scattered across floors in health centres in Debre Abay and May Kuhli in north-western Tigray.

On a visit to a hospital in the central city of Adwa it found medical equipment, including ultrasound machines and monitors, had been deliberately smashed.
A hospital in the town of Semema had been set on fire while a delivery room at Sebeya was destroyed after the facility was hit by rocket, MSF reported.

Looting of health facilities still continues, the organisation said.

Ethiopian authorities have not directly responded to MSF’s allegations, but its Ministry of Peace said over the weekend that at least 75% of hospitals in Tigray were now operational and 10% were operating partially.

Who is to blame?

MSF did not directly name perpetrators but called on “armed groups in the conflict” to respect and protect health facilities and medical staff.

It accused Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers of occupying some hospitals. Both government have denied that Eritrean troops went into Tigray despite persistent reports.

  Source: BBC News