Health Facilities in Ethiopia’s Tigray Have Been ‘Looted, Vandalized,’ Group Reports

Health facilities in the northern Tigray region of Ethiopia have been “looted, vandalized and destroyed in a deliberate and widespread attack on healthcare,” medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders reported on March 15.

According to the group, 87% of the 106 health facilities that its teams visited between mid-December 2020 to early March 2021 were no longer functioning or fully functioning.

The group found that 73% of the health facilities had been looted and stated that the looting continues in some health facilities in the conflict-hit region. It also found that 30% of the health facilities had been damaged.

“While some looting may have been opportunistic, health facilities in most areas appear to have been deliberately vandalized to make them non-functional,” the group said in a statement.

The group further said that its teams found “destroyed equipment, smashed doors and windows, and medicine and patient files scattered across floors” in some health facilities.

According to the group, soldiers occupied every fifth health facility its team visited, noting that some of the armed occupation are temporary while some still continue to occupy the facilities as military bases.

“The attacks on Tigray’s health facilities are having a devastating impact on people,” Doctors Without Borders General Doctor Oliver Behn said in the statement.

“Health facilities and health staff need to be protected during a conflict, in accordance with international humanitarian law. This is clearly not happening in Tigray,” Behn also said.

Behn urged for the healthy system to be restored “as soon as possible” and for all armed groups in the region to “respect and protect health facilities and medical staff.”

The conflict in Tigray began last Nov. 4 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military offensive on the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which he accused of attacking federal troops.

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