The organization stated that three employees of the international medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF) were “cruelly killed” in the troubled Tigray region of Ethiopia.
The organization said in a statement that the emergency coordinator Maria Hernandez, the assistant coordinator Johanes Halifom Radar and the driver Tedros Gebra, Mariam Gebramichael Lost contact with them while traveling on Thursday afternoon. MSF said that their bodies were found a few meters away from the vehicle they used on Friday morning, but did not provide details of the exact location.
MSF added: “We condemn this attack on our colleagues in the strongest terms and will understand what happened without mercy.”
We are shocked and sad to confirm that three MSF staff were killed in Tigray, Ethiopia.
We express our deepest sympathy to their families. We condemned the attack in the strongest terms and will understand what happened without mercy.
The statement will be released soon.
— Doctors Without Borders (@MSF_USA) June 25, 2021
“No words can truly express all our sadness, shock and anger about this terrible attack, nor can it comfort their families and loved ones’ loss and pain. We express our deepest sympathy and condolences to them.”
The statement stated that the deaths of Spanish nationals Hernandez and Ethiopian nationals Reda and Gebremichael “are a devastating blow to all our members of organizations in Ethiopia and the countries where MSF operates around the world.”
No other details are immediately available.
Thousands were killed
On November 4, 2020, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a ground and air offensive in Tigray after accusing the region’s then ruling party Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) for attacking the federal military camp. . TPLF dominated national politics for decades before Abiy came to power in 2018, claiming that the Federal Army and its long-time enemy Eritrea launched a “coordinated attack” against it.
Abi declared victory in late November and occupied the regional capital of Mekle. However, due to fears that the protracted conflict will have a devastating effect on civilians, the fighting continues.
The exact number of deaths in the conflict is not yet known, but it is believed that thousands of people have lost their lives and at least 2 million have been displaced. The residents of Tigray, with a population of nearly 6 million, described massacres, widespread sexual violence, and indiscriminate killings of civilians.
Earlier this month, the United Nations stated that about 350,000 people are facing famine due to “catastrophic” food shortages and another 2 million are “just one step away”.
The news of the murder of Doctors Without Borders caused grief on social media.
ICRC Director-General Robert Mardini said on Twitter: “I am shocked, shocked and saddened by the tragic news of the killing of three MSF colleagues in #Ethiopia.” “This is unacceptable.”
This is unacceptable.
— Robert Martini (@RMardiniICRC) June 25, 2021
Ada Sawyer, deputy director of the Africa Department of Human Rights Watch, also expressed condolences to human rights organizations.
Sawyer wrote on Twitter: “I was shocked to hear that three MSF staff were brutally killed. They are providing a very brave and important job for the war-affected Tigray community.”
Shocked to hear that three people were brutally killed @MSF Staff, they have done incredibly brave + important work while serving the war-affected communities #Tigrey #Ethiopia. We express our deepest condolences to their families, colleagues + friends, from @hrw https://t.co/TThzZvfbQR
— Ida Sawyer (@ida_sawyer) June 25, 2021
In March, MSF staff traveled from Merkler to Adigrat, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) further north. Witnessing the killing of Ethiopian soldiers “At least four” civilians.
At that time, Karline Kleijer, the head of the MSF emergency project, issued a statement describing how Ethiopian soldiers stopped the MSF car and two public transport minibuses driving behind it, forcing Passengers get off the bus.
“The men were separated from the women and they were allowed to walk away. Soon after, these people were shot,” the statement said.
“The MSF team was allowed to leave the scene, but saw the bodies of the victims on the roadside.”