Urgent humanitarian needs remain in northern Ethiopia following two years of conflict that damaged healthcare infrastructure and disrupted public health services in most areas. In the Tigray region, providing much-needed medical care remains very challenging as many health facilities were damaged or destroyed during the conflict. In some areas, as a result, healthcare services are practically absent. Still, improved conditions on the ground have enabled the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to access some of these previously hard-to-reach areas with humanitarian aid.
“We are only managing to give what we have in our hearts. But that`s not enough, because seeing patients who come to be treated die in your hands is very painful,” says Dr Erdey Asefa, chief executive officer of Yechilla Primary Hospital.
Healthcare in and around these damaged or destroyed hospitals is under enormous strain, making it difficult for health staff to operate. Their capacity to treat patients was diminished by the attacks on health facilities, and the impact on the population is devastating. Many people have died from a lack of medical care, and thousands have gone for months without healthcare.
Ambulances were looted, vandalized and destroyed during the conflict. Without ambulances to urgently evacuate patients suffering from life-threatening medical conditions, many have died at home. The Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS), one of the main ambulance service providers in the region, is yet to fully resume services across Tigray because of the lack of logistical supplies. The ERCS operated over 250 ambulances in Tigray before the conflict started, but only 82 of those remain, and many are not in operation.
“We have faced so many challenges. One of them is our driver who was shot while transporting a pregnant woman,” says Berhanu Mekonnen Berhe, the head of Tigray regional branch of the Ethiopian Red Cross Society.
Health facilities and health staff need to be protected by all sides during conflict, in accordance with international humanitarian law, even amidst heavy fighting.
Faced with these enormous health needs, the ICRC has scaled up its support in the region and the rest of the country, providing urgent medical assistance and helping to restore the healthcare system in Tigray – as well as responding to growing humanitarian needs in other parts of the country, within the parameters of a fast-moving humanitarian situation in the Oromia, Afar, Amhara and Somali regions where health facilities have also suffered damage and destruction. In the northern part of the country, in particular, conflict-affected areas have become more accessible, allowing for the support required to enable health facilities to function again.
The ICRC supported 94 health facilities in Ethiopia in 2022, including 29 in Tigray. Our teams offered consultation services to more than 400,000 patients at the primary health level. Some 59,800 people wounded during conflicts in Amhara, Afar, Tigray, Oromia and Somali regions received medical support from the ICRC, and nearly 11,500 persons received physiotherapy and mobility services.
For further information, please contact:
Alyona Synenko (English), ICRC Nairobi, Tel.: +254 716 987 265, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jude Fuhnwi, ICRC Addis, Tel.: +251 94 410 1700 email@example.com
Location: Tigray, Ethiopia
Camera: Jude Fuhnwi
Yechilla - 20 January 2023
Mekelle (Interview of Berhanu, Head ERCS Tigray Branch) – 21 January 2023
Sheraro – 01 December 2022
Adi Daero – 06 December 2022
Yechilla, Sheraro, Adi Daero and Mekelle
Copyright: ICRC access all
On Screen Credit: ICRC written, or logo attached to story
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Patient receiving care outside Sheraro Primary Health Centre
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Various Shots. Destroyed Adi Daero Primary Health Center
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Pan and tilt shot of destroyed building at Sheraro Primary Health Centre
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SOUND BITE: Gebremedhin Berhe, Nurse, Acting Manager of Sheraro Primary Health Center. This building was the laboratory and cash desk. It got destroyed by a shelling.
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Various Shots. Interior. Destroyed health material and documents at Sheraro Primary Health Center
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SOUND BITE: Gebremedhin Berhe, Nurse, Acting Manager of Sheraro Primary Health Center. Every equipment inside the laboratory was destroyed and the staff were highly affected. After the shelling, the staff ran away.
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There have been no health services since the shelling, and we have only started operating now.
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Various shots. Damaged Ethiopian Red Cross Society ambulance lies on the side of the road at Adi Kolakul
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SOUND BITE: Berhanu Mekonnen Berhe – Head of Tigray Regional Branch, Ethiopia Red Cross Society. We had so many challenges and problems that we have faced.
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One of them, one of our driver while he was driving.
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carrying with one pregnant woman.
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He was killed, he was shot on the main street while he was driving to hospital.
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For a couple of hours he was alive. He did not die immediately.
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But it was amazing what he did at that time just to save the life of the pregnant woman.
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With two or three bullets in his body,
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He tried to dress by himself and he tried just to drive the ambulance and he
arrived in hospital.
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The pregnant woman was saved
just go to birth at that time but for him
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he couldn't get support or help medical
personnel because of situation at that time it was very difficult to get
personnel after a while he passed away.
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Various shots. Bullet holes on the the windows and walls at Yechilla Primary Hospital in Tigray
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Various shots. Patients waiting outside and being attend to at Yechilla Primary Hospital.
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Various shots. Damaged health material at Yechilla Primary Hospital.
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SOUND BITE: Dr Erdey Asefa – Chief Executive Officer, Yechilla Primary Hospital
Many medicines and medical materials, they were looted and damaged.
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You can see how much damage happened to our hospital.
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We have tried to make inventory of how much damage happened to our hospital
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It is more than 90 million Ethiopian Birr, they tried to damage and loot.
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So we are suffering with lack of supplies
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So we are managing .... to give what we have in our hearts.
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But that`s not enough,
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Because seeing patients who come to be treated, die in your hands is very painful
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Various shots, destruction at Adi Daero Primary Health Center
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Pan shot, patients waiting outside at Sheraro Primary Health Centre
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Medium shot, Sign board, Sheraro Primary Health Centre