News: Incoming Tigray interim leader pledges to address grievances of disabled Tigrayan soldiers following protest rally in Mekelle

Disabled Tigrayan fighters protesting on the streets of Mekelle. Photo: Social Media

By Mihret G Kristos @MercyG_kirstos

Addis Ababa – Getachew Reda, president elect of the interim regional administration of Tigray said “the question they [disabled Tigrayan fighters] raised is right and will be taken very seriously” following the soldiers unprecedented protest rally in regional capital Mekelle. 

The fighters who were injured and physically disabled during the two-year war with the federal government hit the streets on Tuesday chanting “we are starved” and asking for medical and food supplies.

Speaking to Addis Standard afterwards Getachew Reda said the injured members of the Tigrayan fighters raised a serious issue of lack of food, hygiene and medical treatment, and that it has to be investigated and taken very seriously.

The disabled soldiers who are sheltered inside two military camps called Quiha Meles camp and the Dejen hospital North command military camp in the capital Mekelle, further demanded dignity, and compensation for families of martyrs during the war.

Medhaniye Hilufe, who used to be a lecturer at Adigrat University before the war broke out in Tigray, is one of the protesting physically disabled members of the Tigrayan forces. “My right hand is not functional. I can’t eat or write. I have been waiting two months for medical treatment, I asked many times for better medical treatment but they ignored it. It is my family that helps me to get better medical treatment,” Medihaniye told Addis Standard.

“What about those who don’t have better access, their wounds get worse due to lack of medical treatments? Many youths have their legs and hands cut due to lack of medical treatment,” he added, while also noting that medicine which was supposed to be for the soldiers has been sold to private pharmacies.

“We fight for our rights, democracy, and our people. So we need dignity, we deserve medical treatment and food. This shouldn’t be an issue for Tigrayan forces, what a shame,” Medhaniye added.

“I want to go back to my work and profession, so I need adequate medical treatment and food to recover, but here we are starving,” he added.

A source from Mekelle told Addis Standard that the military and anti-riot police tried to block the fighters from protesting, and tear gas them before Getachew Reda appeared on the scene and spoke with the injured soldiers. 

According to the source, after discussing with the representatives of the soldiers, Getachew allowed the soldiers to express their grievances freely and also promised them to address their concerns. AS

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