The brave nonviolent defense of Ayder Hospital by Mekelle citizens a year ago

Men and women Mekelle citizens of all faiths put up roadblocks to prevent looting of Ayder Hospital in November 2020 (Photo from Eritrea Hub)

This is the story I witnessed of the brave unarmed civilians peacefully protesting and blocking invading forces from ransacking Ayder Comprehensive Specialized Hospital in Mekelle, Ethiopia in November of 2020. I had been performing neurosurgery, teaching fellows, and medical students at Mekelle University  in the Tigray region of Ethiopia since 2015 in a federal university and hospital.  As such I was present in Mekelle from the onset of the war between the Tigray Defense Force and the Ethiopian/Eritrean forces from the onset until my evacuation about 3 months later at the behest of international influence and my family which was three days of driving through multiple checkpoints and unstable areas until we finally arrived in Addis Ababa.

The day before the occupation of Mekelle we knew that the Tigray Defense Force had left the city in hopes to avoid civilian casualities. Yet early in the morning an artillery barrage started which targeted essentially the whole city. Rounds were landing about every 5 seconds. This lasted until the early morning hours of next day. Stopped for a while and then was restarted for several hours. In my own immediate neighborhood just a few blocks from the Mekelle University hospital, Ayder Comprehensive Specialized Hospital many homes and buildings were destroyed and many killed. A market and home for elders was directly hit killing and wounding many.

About 200 yards from my house, a home that housed a large extended family suffered a direct hit that sent shrapnel breaking my windows at about 6:30 in the morning. I ran over there to find a young woman in the street with a severe bleeding wound in upper leg but that was just the beginning of the horror. The walls of the house had been destroyed on two sides and the rest looked like a Swiss cheese with many perforations. On the ground was a motionless young woman who had only a red spot on the ground where her chest was supposed to be. Her lifeless arms were extended with each one holding toddlers. The children where crying. When I pulled back their hair I found that hundreds of small munitions fragments had penetrated the scalp of both children although the eyes seemed okay. There was nothing we could do for the mother nor her mother who lay beside her dead as well from penetrating shrapnel. Remaining family members rushed the sister with the injured leg and the children to Ayder Comprehensive Specialized Hospital. 

At the hospital emergency room there was wave after wave of ambulances and private vehicles bringing those hit by the attack who were all civilians. Some could be helped but many were beyond hope. We were able to save the children and their aunt from the attack near my house. Although we would sometimes previously do mass casualty from bus accidents in the past this was a much greater magnitude as we saw more then 120 patients in the first few hours. 

Before the invasion of the city, we had been receiving civilian causalities,  Tigray Defense Force causalities, and also Federal/Eritrean causalities. We treated them all the same. The local people even brought food and blankets for the all the groups. However after the invasion the tenor of the invading force changed. Many patients were just suddenly whisked away to parts unknown and we were not allowed to inquire.

As the invading forces approached we saw many women with vulgar mutilations of their vagina, amputations, facial injuries, and mortal wounds from gunshot and blades. There were women shot in back apparently running from invading Eritrean and Ethiopian forces. Sometimes their small children were brought in with partial decapitation.

The next day on November 26, 2020 at which time Federal Ethiopian armed forces and Eritrean forces invaded unopposed the city of Mekelle.  For the next few days in Mekelle there were Ethiopian and Eritrean forces looting, shooting, robbing, and harassing civilians all around the Ayder area where I lived and the hospital was located. The hospital was occupied by Ethiopian army regulars, then Special Forces from Oromia, and so-called Federal Police. These fighters would be in every room watching everything done by nurses and doctors. They told us to write in the medical records that any civilian injuries were caused by Tigray fighters and not by Ethiopian or Eritrean forces. Then suddenly for about half a day they disappeared.

Rumors where flying in the city that Eritreans where ransacking public utilities, schools, etc. The hospital had always been a source of pride and necessity for not only Mekelle but all of Tigray. The local population of civilians began to put tires, logs, and stones to block trucks or other vehicles in the streets surrounding around Ayder Comprehensive Specialized Hospital, the main teaching and tertiary hospital for Tigray, fearing that the hospital which was highly valued by the city would be destroyed or looted. Special Red caped soldiers showed up and began harassing the locals more and more. 

Among the first to call citizens to action was the muazzin of the Adishmdhun Mosque. Although there was no electricity in the city using the mosque generator and microphone he called people to guard the hospital. The message was ” to all residents of Mekelle be Muslim, Christian, males or females : Ayder is being looted, so go and protect your hospital “. Immediately the people began to make the gatherings. There was was a group of motorcycle men who tended to gather at a pub just a few blocks from the hospital who began calling the same thing using a speaker. Youth groups and community elders answered the call. The demonstration and blocking of the roads was done with people of all faiths and different ethnicities.

The locals did not back off. They gathered by the thousands and began to surround the hospital 24 hours a day. Many times semitrucks and smaller trucks driven by Eritreans which were empty tried to make it to the hospital to loot it but where physically blocked by protestors standing in their way.  At one point a group of young men were shouting about ten feet in front me to the soldiers. Suddenly the soldiers fired at them killed one and injuring two others. At that time there were tires burning all around the hospital with thousands of protesters. The soldiers were scared and I feared the worst was going to happen. It was tense until morning. Finally the lined up trucks driven by plain clothed Eritreans were told to leave by the invading forces. The two that survived to be treated were hauled off from the hospital by the invading forces and have not been seen again as far as I know.

Pictures I had of the event were erased by Eritrean patrols that would search me everyday I went to the hospital but I will never forget the bravery of the people in Mekelle who unarmed defended their hospital. 

Panic and the fog of war are undeniable in Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa is clearly moving into a panic with all foreign governments evacuating their citizens, wanton capture of Tigrayans, and a marshal state of law

Clearly those who stated Addis Ababa was living day to day business as usual were wrong. To describe the situation as panic based upon contacts I have spoken in the past few days is a conservative appraisal.  Conflicting reports on the status of various government officials and which government agencies are still functioning abound. 

At this time many sources including Ethiopian government report that Abiy Ahmed has given the role of day to day government administration to Demeke Mekonnen whereas before it was Demeke Mekonnen who was visiting the troops in the field. If Abiy Ahmed is truly commanding the armed forces of Ethiopia then how can he be incommunicado? Additionally he has ordered all members of his Prosperity Party and all government staffers to fight. So is the government apart from the military shutting down?

Abiy Ahmed tells Jeffrey Feltman and others in the diplomatic community he can negotiate successfully while in the same breath says he can get an easy military victory. The Tigray leadership as usual does not make clear its immediate military intention. One wonders is their goal when they reach proximity to Addis Ababa will be to impose a siege as they have done before?

 

President Sahle-Work Zewde belatedly claims she was against Abiy Ahmed “war mongering”

Great hope was placed when Sahle-Work Sahle as Ethiopia’s President.

Sahle-Work Zewde the President of Ethiopia who was widely hailed as a sign of reform of Abiy Ahmed has come out now saying that she was against the “war mongering” of Abiy Ahmed and his Prosperity Party supporters but could do nothing because her position was ceremonial only. Where was she when children were being starved, women being violated, and innocent villagers being executed?

Previously in February 2021 after being silent for three months she did utter the words that the humanitarian needs in Tigray were “enormous” but nothing else. Her words now claiming that “Abiy was dragging his country into a sort of downward spiral” to me seem mostly self serving to escape blame. If she is really sincere then she most immediately go public and convince Ethiopians to stop supporting Abiy Ahmed and seek an end to more killing, detainment, starvation, and suffering.

Awaiting findings of the ACHPR ongoing investigation into Tigray atrocities

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it is “regrettable to note that the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights made a unilateral announcement on the establishment of a “Commission of Inquiry” and said it was “completely outside the scope of the invitation by the government and lacks legal basis.”

The report of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights regarding Tigray which has been underway for some time now has not yet been released but their severe concerns have been well communicated. On May 12, 2021 the whole body of the ACHPR agreed there was need to investigate potential human rights violations in Tigray.

Even though Ethiopia is a charter member of the ACHPR and its associated African Court in June 2021 it refused the jurisdiction of the ACHPR to investigate Tigray.  Subsequently the ACHPR has continued investigations and updates. This body has sought out input from first hand witnesses to the events in Tigray which Ethiopian lead bodies have sought to avoid.

The government of Ethiopia has sent written statements opining that they have not committed atrocities but so far this has not convinced the ACHPR to conclude their ongoing search for the truth. They have asked all parties to cease military action and reminded the Ethiopian government of its obligations to protect human rights.

Unlike the joint United Nations and Ethiopian Human Right Commission investigations which absolutely neglected and in fact intentionally avoided certain indicated sources of investigation, the ACHPR has taken testimony for first hand witnesses in Tigray including health care providers who personally lived the war and cared for the victims. Clearly one of the reasons of the destruction of hospitals and  clinics by Ethiopian and Eritrean forces was to eliminate evidence of atrocity. Additionally as I and others have discussed at Ayder Comprehensive Specialized Hospital there was intimidation of nurses and doctors to falsely write into medical records that civilian injuries were due to Tigray fighters. The AHCPR has obtained testimony from many of those involved even if they were now out of region.

The ACHPR has expressed concern over the following in it’s resolution

Deeply concerned about allegations of gross violations in the ongoing conflict in the Tigray region, including sexual violence against women and girls, gang rapes used as weapons of war, killings of civilians by belligerents and extrajudicial killings;

Also noting, and with concern, the situation of Eritrean refugees living in camps in Tigray region, and allegations of abductions, extrajudicial killings and forced repatriation to Eritrea of refugees and asylum seekers;

Deeply concerned about reports of the large-scale movement of Tigrayan refugees fleeing the conflict to Sudan and neighboring countries;

Further concerned about reports of massive and forced internal displacement of thousands of people in the Tigray region who find themselves in situations of isolation;

Expressing its deep concern at reports about the intensity of hostilities which have led to an increased number of victims and casualties in the ongoing conflict, and which have resulted in serious and gross violations of human rights, breaches of international humanitarian and human rights law, refugee rights and the provisions of the Kampala Convention;

Noting with concern the humanitarian crisis in Tigray, the challenges to the population’s access to humanitarian assistance, and reports of the use of starvation as a weapon of war;

Recalling reports with allegations of human rights violations against the civilian population, including attacks against civilian infrastructure, destruction of property, looting, destruction of refugee camps, which may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity;

Further concerned about the threats to the safety, security, well-being and livelihood of the people of the Tigray region, as well as the loss of lives, destruction of public and private infrastructure, as the military conflict continues;

Conscious of the need to act as soon as possible to contribute to the resolution of the conflict, including the determination of accountability, in order to bring the perpetrators to justice and provide reparation and restoration to the victims, as well as bring about national reconciliation, with a view to enhancing stability, security and peace in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia;

Noting the report of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission of 24 March 2021 confirming the killings by Eritrean troops in the town of Aksum and the statement of the Ethiopian Prime Minister acknowledging the violation of human rights in the Tigray region;

At the last sessions in August 2021 resolutions where passed to obtain opinions of experts to further investigation.

On October 23, 2021 the ACHPR issued a press statement about Ethiopian airstrikes in the Tigray region saying

 

The Commission has since been closely monitoring the crisis in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (Ethiopia) and is deeply saddened by the alarming reports of the recent resurgence of   military offensive   between the Federal Government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia.

Reports indicate that Ethiopia’s Military have carried out airstrikes, the fourth in a week in the capital city of Mekele, as fighting intensified between the Federal Government and Regional Forces.

The Commission is deeply concerned about the escalation of the conflict in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia and its impact on the civilian population amidst widespread allegations of human rights abuses including, the killings of thousands of people; disruption of livelihoods; and displacement of more than two million people since the beginning of the conflict in November 2021.

The Commission is also concerned about the increasing humanitarian needs in the region where millions of people are reported to be in dire need of food and aid relief assistance, with hindered access to the necessary humanitarian aid.

The Commission would once again like to remind the Federal Government of Ethiopia of its commitments and obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights; International Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

The Commission reiterates its call on all the parties to the conflict to halt all military offensive and end hostilities; prioritize the welfare of the people of Tigray; protect its civilians; and engage in a dialogue with a view to finding lasting, peaceful and mutually acceptable solutions to the crisis.

The Commission urges the Federal Government of Ethiopia to take all necessary measures to restore and facilitate the speedy and unhindered access of humanitarian aid and relief, particularity food and nutrition supplies, medicine and other assistance to the region, to avoid famine   and increased hunger related deaths; as well as restore essential services including essential commercial commodities, electricity, communications and banking services in the Tigray Region.

The Commission also associates itself with the various condemnations concerning the situation in the Ethiopia, and calls on all stakeholders within the International Community to combine their efforts in order to take appropriate measures needed to restore peace and security in Ethiopia.

Abiy Ahmed’s deteriorating status with Ethiopian performing artists

Singer Tariku Ganiski calls for youth not to go to war but for elders to make peace at Addis Ababa rally. See the Amharic speech he made here.

Popular Ethiopian singer, Tariku Gankisi, who is known for promoting Ethiopian unity in his works was invited to perform at a Addis Ababa rally to support the Federal governments fight against the Tigray and their allies but it did not go as organizers had planned. Instead Tariku told the crowd “Let no youth go to the front lines to fight, let the elders go holding the fresh grass and ask for reconciliation,” before his microphone was switched off by party unknown.

President John F. Kennedy said at the Alliance for Progress in 1962 that “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable”. He recognized that dictators oppression of nonviolent protest and dissent can ultimately inflame the cause for war.

In 2018 Abiy Ahmed praised the art community of Ethiopia saying “art has indispensable role in nourishing our cultural life, love, forgiveness and togetherness. The role of the artist is to be a guardian of truth and justice and creatively reveal the richness of our national life”.  However as his ever attempt to tighten controls over everything in Ethiopian life including culture has increased his appreciation for performing artists seems to have changed as have theirs towards him.

On June 29, 2020 the popular Oromo singer, Hachalu Hundessa, was murdered most likely by supporters of Abiy Ahmed. In his quest to consolidate power over the Oromo population the Ethiopian Prime Minister had already imprisoned over 7000 Oromia and overseen the extrajudicial killing of over almost 300 since coming to power in 2018. This singer’s style and message appealed to multiple generations in ballads discussing the subjugation of the Oromo people historically and more recently the expansion of the nation’s capital, Addis Ababa generally considered Amhara territory, into the Oromo national state.  Although Abiy Ahmed was initially seen as a champion of these causes he eventually dropped them preferring his Ahmara identity.

Making media the message and avoiding real issues hastens Abiy Ahmed’s fall

Even though Ethiopia has been thought of a religious country filled with pious Christians and Muslims activists now promote blasphemous suspension of morality

Twitter has seen so many posts advocating escalation of ethnic violence against the Tigray in Ethiopia that they shut down their mechanism for collecting posts with similar topics for readership. In the face of a great epic tragedy occurring in Ethiopia the supporters of Abiy Ahmed have decided that their best strategy in midst of a military debacle is to attempt to deflect the real issues and realign them to emotional ones unrelated to the current reality.

Amhara activist promotes savage behavior

Over the past few years I have had an interest in the use of language and neuroscience related to how it functions to establish human interactions. We have been using this to help develop teaching methods for students training for futures as executives in business in Africa in how they relate to clients. This neurobehavioral science gives some insight to what we are seeing in Twitter and Facebook.

Modern media is about the short sound bit or 125 character phrase that creates a “Wow” visceral response without contemplating the whys? Hows? Where is it going? Where did it come from?

Whereas decades ago all massively distributed media was created by professionals with supervisory editing dictated by agreed norms of civility today we see a change to media made for sensationalistic emotional immediate response.   In the 1960s Marshal McLuhan, a Canadian philosopher, coined the phrase “the media is the message”. The concept is a bit complex but importantly relates to the idea that sensational content in its presentation draws the observer away from thinking about things like why is it presented, what were the circumstances that lead to it, etc. In his work Understanding Media:The Extensions of Man he gave the example of a “burglar carrying meat for the watchdog of the mind”.

The problems of starvation, deprivation, imprisonment, and violation will not be solved by sound bits or catchy phrases. History is replete with many instances of times when leaders let personal glory drive them to make decisions prolonging suffering of those in their charge with avoidable predictable catastrophe.

The world support for Abiy Ahmed makes it a partner in death and destruction

Abiy Ahmed’s most notable political act is the killing of thousands of Ethiopian citizens

Thousands are dead yet still the world will do nothing significant about the Ethiopian crisis. Diaspora influence and foreign government hesitance to see the real Abiy Ahmed greatly empowered Ethiopia’s descent into hell. The world cannot escape its responsibility in fomenting disaster. The world has to learn to not just to listen to words but also to measure the man who speaks them.  To hold leaders accountable when they stray from their promises.

The impetus to finally fulfill the Ethiopian dream of a democratic state promoting ethnic unity and escape from poverty obscured the world’s view of the real Abiy Ahmed. Medemer, a promise of the blending of Ethiopia’s many cultures into a new national unity with equality for all, quickly deteriorated following the Prime Minister’s victory tour in the United States.  During this visit and subsequently Abiy Ahmed progressively became influenced by the Amharic clerico-fascist movement that believed the greatness of the Ethiopian state lied in returning to the time of Amharic expansion and dominance of the 19th century. This metamorphosis of Abiy Ahmed was mostly sparked by the influence of diaspora Amhara who greatly also influenced domestic supporters.  

This foreign diaspora influence is important to realize because it very much goes against the idea that what was happening in Ethiopia was all the result of beliefs and actions of  domestic “Ethiopians”. Promises of aversion to war, new economic development, freedom of the press, release of political prisoners, and open dialogue about the future of the state were quickly retracted. Instead, references to the troubled time of “princes without a king” of the 18th century Ethiopia from which Amharic leadership provided “rescue” in the 19th century became the dominant theme of government forward looking policy. Medemer was a camouflage for the return of Amharic dominance, expansion, and repression of other Ethnic groups. 

In the period of a year Ethiopia went from a booming economy with high levels of economic growth, foreign investment, improving educational and health care services to a devastating war that has killed thousands, displaced millions, genocidally declared Tigrayans (Tegaru) as needing extermination, bankrupting the economy, and the world view of Ethiopia as a pariah of the likes of Iran, Eritrea, and North Korea.

As I and others have written before, the function and the will of the United Nations and the African Union to to reduce the harm from this crisis is almost nil. Part of it is the disbelief that the Abiy Ahmed the world wished to see is not the evil man that ultimately emerged who kills, starves, and destroys. Now his victims are not just the Tigray but include all Ethiopians whose dream is now became a nightmare. The only recourse is to hope that the opposition forces of Tigray, Oromia, and others will be able to topple the evil. 

Abiy Ahmed’s Recent Action reminds of Hitler’s “Nero” Decree

A child was one of several civilians killed and injured by the Ethiopian airstrike on a market in Mekelle claimed to be the main communication center by the ENDF

Reminiscent of Hitler’s actions in the face of defeat in World War II Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has done his own “Nero” Decree. Devastating loss of soldiers and equipment in the past week  to Tigray Defense Forces have only hardened the Ethiopian Prime Minister to escalate further his grotesque acts of war crime and inhumanity. Many military analysts are saying setbacks of the Ethiopian National Defense Force may have reached a point of no return. 

Ethiopian jet aircraft attacked a busy market in downtown Mekelle calling it the center of Tigray Defense Force communications near a well known hotel, Planet Hotel.  Ayder Hospital reports there were 3 causalities. This is the latest action whereas earlier in the week the jets repeatedly area bombarded areas along the A2 highway in Amhara killing at least hundreds of Amhara and Afar civilians, his own Amhara forces, and destroying many businesses with little effect on the Tigray Defense Forces.  Throughout the past 11 months under his command hundreds of thousands of innocents have been summarily executed, starved, raped, striped of health care, possessions, and communication. 

In March of 1945 when Allied Forces crossed the Rhine and Russian forces were moving in fast from the West, Adolf Hitler made his infamous “Nero” Decree. He admitted to a few of his generals that defeat was imminent. He called for the destruction of Germany’s infrastructure and stepped up arrests of Jews and other undesirables as well as their executions.  The similarity of using genocide and deprivation of Abiy to Hitler seems to become closer and closer with each passing day. One wonders if Abiy Ahmed has read Mein Kampf. 

In public remarks Abiy Ahmed rambled between talking about avocados and that every Amhara citizen should stand by his house and fight to the death. While at the same giving frantic calls to the United States State Department to help him even though he does not want to negotiate with “Terrorists”. Meanwhile his supporters continue their chants “Hands off Ethiopia!” meaning they want no interference from the United States while complaining they want more food aid to Amhara even as they block it to Tigray.

Ethiopian and Eritrean destruction will crash Ethiopian Development Bank

The Development Bank of Ethiopia has seen continuation of many loan failures under the government of Abiy Ahmed

Already failing Development Bank of Ethiopia strategies to successfully finance targeted Ethiopian business success are now crashing completely due to the Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Amhara forces destruction in millions of dollars of industrial projects which were 70% financed by the Development Bank of Ethiopia. Now these loans will never be paid and foreign investor interest has been severely discouraged.

The Development Bank of Ethiopia was created to be a mechanism to finance industries deemed vital to the economic development of Ethiopia because there was insufficient private or international alternatives. The Ethiopian Commerce Bank of Ethiopia which held 57% of deposits 18% of profits from private lenders was just not big enough to handle the load. The low interest rates paid by Ethiopian Commerce Bank were just too low to sustain financing for large projects.

Unfortunately over the past decade ongoing inflation and business failure of large projects in government targeted industries was creating a difficult situation to sustain the development bank. In 2020 just before the Ethiopian Tigray conflict began the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, began to take over policy determination of the Development Bank of Ethiopia. Despite this the number of distressed loans increased to one third of all projects. Under the PM the Ethiopian Investment Commission tried to help 485 troubled government targeted business ventures with additional cash disbursements and loan refinancing sometimes trying to encourage some help from the Ethiopian Commerce Bank but little improvement occurred.

As reported by the Tigray Interim Administration in February 2021 just in Tigray over 100 billion birr of destruction was done by the Ethiopian and Eritrean forces in the so-called law enforcement operation. Thousands of workers lost jobs and foreign investors had no choice but to abandon the projects financed to tens of millions of dollars through the Development Bank of Ethiopia when they saw the destruction and theft of equipment and materials to Eritrea.

Now with the complete destruction of cities and businesses along the highways extending north from Dessie in the Amhara region by poorly controlled carpet bombing and artillery of the Ethiopian forces even more hundreds of millions of dollars in outstanding loans will default to the Development Bank of Ethiopia likely resulting in its collapse. 

Ethiopian intentional punitive defunding and diversion of Tigray medical supplies

Ayder Comprehensive Specialized Hospital campus of Mekelle University

Intentional starvation and complete blockade of medical supply are primary strategies of the Ethiopian government towards the Tigray state in violation of not only moral propriety but also international law. How this unfolded will be told in this writing.

In discussion with displaced and in place faculty of Mekelle University this week I have learned that Ayder Comprehensive Specialized Hospital has more than 60 infants and children dying of starvation in the hospital averaging 2 or more deaths per day. Today there is no medicine, no nutritional supplements, no baby food or bottle formula, no laboratory, no x-ray, and the staff is all working voluntarily without pay. Every day children and adults are dying of simple treatable acute and chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, childbirth, pneumonia, and accident just to name a few.  This intentional complete abandonment of the Ethiopian government’s responsibility to care for innocent noncombatants is a violation of international treaties and the Genocide Convention of the United Nations to which Ethiopia is a signatory. 

I previously published that we now can accurately estimate that the crude death rate, that is the number of expected deaths per 1000 population per annum will raise from its pre-war level of 6 by %500 to 32 (its level in 1950 when there was almost no health care) meaning over 228,000 people will die in Tigray each year due to complete lack of health care.

For the previous year while the Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Amhara regional governments were planning their invasion of Tigray there was also a plan to defund Mekelle University with reduction and stoppage of many routine payments such as for a routine repair of the MRI scanner and CT scanner.

Then following the Ethiopian Eritrean occupation of Mekelle in late November 2020 the medical supply, maintenance support, and even communication with Ethiopian Ministries of Science and Higher Education and Health were gradually completely cut off to the federally funded Ethiopian Mekelle University and it’s referral and teaching hospital Ayder Comprehensive Specialized Hospital.  

The acting President of Mekelle University, Dr. Fetien Abay, and Chief Academic Head of the College of Health Sciences, Dr. Hayelom Kebede,  went to see the military commander of the Ethiopian occupying forces in early December when the hospital’s supplies were already near exhaustion at Planet Hotel. He told them that the Ethiopian military and government had no responsibility to care for the civilian population. Subsequent discussions with Mulu Nega, the first appointed governor of the Tigray Interim Administration appointed by Prime Minister Ahmed to preside over the occupation, and then the Eritrean Abraham Belay, long time supporter of Isaias Afwerki, dictator of Eritrea and now the defense minister for Ethiopia who replaced  Nega he was too “lenient”. Communications with Belay were that Ethiopia had no responsibility to offer any civilian support or assistance because civilians were not supporting the Ethiopian government.

Since the occupation and extending even up to the recent few months intermittent conversations with Dr. Lia Tadesse by Dr. Hayelom  Kebede and others have proven failures. She has expressed regret in telephone conversations that she is not allowed to take any action to supply Ayder Hospital or the Tigray Regional Health Bureau because the Prime Minister has forbid it.

Almost two years ago I was consulting with a group working with multiple international nongovernmental organizations to propose a plan to help improve the function of Ethiopian government purchasing. This included discussions about joint ventures on producing medical consumables in Ethiopia. The plan was rejected after our presentation to the Ethiopian Investment Commission because the funder of a factory wanted to build it in Tigray. Out of this work came a discussion with high officials of the Korea Hospital that they had tried a similar goal  before and discovered that Ethiopia was selling some of the supplies it purchased at discounted price or partially subsidized price to other African countries at higher prices to get “hard currency”. It now appears that some supplies that were collected and meant to be shipped to Tigray since the onset of war may have been just given to Eritrea or instead sold as means to collect hard currency.