Ethiopia denying health care, education, basic human resources function is Tigray genocide

The Ethiopian Federal government is committing intended genocide robbing the future of the young people and the Tigray society by denying any funding for basic infrastructure, education, and health care in Ethiopia.

Ayder Comprehensive Specialized Hospital was a site for training medical students and residents as well as being the tertiary hospital for over 7 million

The National State of Tigray had 9 government owned college and universities and 11 privately owned. The number of students attending all these institutions was likely in excess of 60,000 students. The flagship university was Mekelle University, a Federal facility, that was the second largest university in Ethiopia enrolling students in undergraduate and graduate programs from not only all the regional states of Ethiopia but also Somaliland, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Djibouti. Within Mekelle University are the following colleges: Dryland Agriculture and Natural Resources Management, Natural and Computational Sciences, Law and Governance, Social Sciences and Languages, Business and Economics, Veterinary science, Health Sciences and Ayder Comprehensive Specialized Hospital.

For almost 7 years I have been Professor and Chief of Neurosurgery, teaching medical students, residents, and fellows as well as Faculty for what was the first Neuroscience PhD program in Ethiopia. Even before the events of November 2020 which plummeted into armed conflict between the Federal government and the National Tigray State there were problems brewing with the Ministry of Science and Higher Education which oversees universities as well as the hospitals they own. Whereas before we were welcome partners at discussions on the national level about educational development the Tigray region was shunned. Although the COVID-19 crisis had resulted in prolonged shutdown and budget cuts there were additional steps taken to restrict Tigray Universities.

After the conflict began in every woreda and kebele schools were ransacked, teachers killed or raped, and books used for toilet paper by occupying Eritrean, Amhara, and Ethiopian National Defense Force Soldiers who often took over these facilities to be used as barracks or even worse centers of abuse. Universities and hospital underwent artillery barrages and air strikes even while they were treating innocent civilians.  Many faculty and staff have not been paid for many months (bank accounts are frozen) , physical plants have no ability to do even maintenance  Supplies and equipment were stolen and often sent to Eritrea as war booty.  The African Studies Association which is the largest African scholar group has condemned the action of the Ethiopian government. To rebuild and replace these losses will cost millions of birr.

After the occupancy of Mekelle by the Interim Administration of the Federal Government we were told that schools and universities would remain open and not to send the students home. However minimal funds and resources were sent to sustain the physical plants, the faculty, or even the students. Basically the Ministry just seemed to pretend we did not exist. Ultimately when the new budget was done for the coming year which normally starts in September to correlate with the New Year on the Ethiopian calendar we have learned that absolutely no budget at all was made for education or health care in Tigray. Even though the Federal Government says we are still a part of Ethiopia in reality we are being denied any funding of vital functions in society as if we are not a part of Ethiopia.

Author: Professor Tony Magana

Professor Tony Magana is Head of the Department of Neurosurgery, School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences at Mekelle University in Mekelle, Ethiopia. He directs a neurosurgery residency and training program as well as neuroscience research.

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