News: MSF urges Ethiopia to respond to killing of its staff in Tigray after new media report

Addis Abeba – Paula Gil, president, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Spain issued a statement urging the Ethiopian government “to respond to” new investigative report on NYT, which detailed accounts surrounding the killing on 24 June 2021 of three MSF staff members in Tigray.

The bodies of Maria Hernandez, 35, from Madrid, Spain, Yohannes Halefom Reda, 31, from Tigray, and Tedros Gebremariam Gebremichael, 31, also from Tigray, had been found on 24 June. On 25 June, their vehicle was found empty and, 100 to 400 meters away, their lifeless bodies were found.

In January this year, six month into the killing, MSF said it had been asking “every possible effort to understand what happened to them by continuously engaging with the parties to the conflict. We have met multiple times with various ministries of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) to ensure that their killings are investigated, and the findings shared with us. We have made the same requests to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).”

A new investigative report released by NYT on 17 March, which included an account given by a military man, attributed the killing to members of the Ethiopian military force, the ENDF.

“Since the tragic deaths of our colleagues, MSF has relentlessly tried to understand the full circumstances behind these killings and obtain an acknowledgment of responsibility. The preliminary findings of our own internal review, which have been shared with the Ethiopian authorities, did not confirm with certainty who the perpetrators were or their motives,” Paula Gil said.

According to Paula, both in public and bilaterally, the MSF has “engaged both parties present in the area where the killings took place—the ENDF and TPLF— and conveyed specific requests and questions regarding their potential involvement in the incident. We have also asked them to share the findings of their investigations and reviews with us and with María, Tedros, and Yohannes’ families. As of today, we still do not have any clarity on the circumstances that led to the killings or an acknowledgement of responsibility. Through our bilateral engagement, we know there is an ongoing FDRE investigation and we believe it is urgent for them to share their findings.” 

“We need clarity from all parties on what happened on that terrible day and we will continue our bilateral engagement to obtain that information. The safety of the humanitarian staff providing medical care and assistance across Ethiopia, urgently requires that adequate measures be taken to prevent such a tragic incident from ever happening again. The memory of María, Tedros and Yohannes, the pain of their close relatives, friends and colleagues need solace and closure. We need answers.” 

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