Ethiopia, attacks on healthcare facilities throughout Tigray

A girl receiving a vaccine in an Ethiopian hospital A girl receiving a vaccine in an Ethiopian hospital Photo by Lucio Patone on Unsplash

15 March 2021

Nearly 70% of health facilities looted, and over 30% damaged; barely 1 in 10 left functioning

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has reported widespread, deliberate attacks on health facilities throughout the Tigray region of Ethiopia. MSF teams visited a total of 106 facilities between mid-December 2020 and early March 2021, reporting that 73% had been looted, and more than 30% had been damaged, with just 13% functioning normally.

The MSF teams reported that most health facilities were deliberately targeted, with equipment destroyed, doors and windows smashed, and medicine and patient files scattered across floors. Every fifth health facility visited by MSF was occupied by soldiers. The Abiy Addi hospital in central Tigray, which serves a population of half a million, was used by Ethiopian forces as a military base and to stabilize their injured soldiers until early March, preventing access to the general population. Few health facilities in Tigray now have ambulances, as most have been seized by armed groups.

Before the conflict began in November 2020, Tigray had one of the best health systems in Ethiopia. Now it has almost completely collapsed. Many health facilities’ staff members have also fled in fear, or are unable to continue working after not receiving salaries for months.

MSF called for the health system to be restored as soon as possible, and for all armed groups in this conflict to respect and protect health facilities and medical staff. Ethiopian authorities blame Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) fighters opposing the government in Tigray for the damage to health infrastructure, and have made efforts to restore the health sector. The Ethiopian embassy in London told the BBC in a statement that 75% of hospitals in Tigray were now operational, and 10% were operating partially.


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Author: Tan Zhong Chen; Editor: Xavier Atkins

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