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News Alert: MSF Spain President unable to access Tigray, meet fed authorities after six-day visit to Ethiopia

Portrait of Paula Gil, President of MSF Spain since 2021. Photo Credit: MSF

Addis Abeba Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (NSF) said the president of MSF Spain, Paula Gil, concluded a six-day visit to Ethiopia without accessing Tigray and manage a meeting with federal government authorities as planned.

“It is with great disappointment that I concluded a six-day visit to Addis Abeba this weekend,” Ms Paula Gil, said in a statement sent to Addis Standard. On 19 July, MSF Spain said that following a year of engagement, Ms Gil was traveling to Ethiopia and aimed “to meet high-level representatives from the Federal Government of Ethiopia to discuss the killing of our [three] colleagues in Tigray in 2021.”

“I was not granted permission from the authorities to visit Tigray, which meant that I could not pay tribute to the families of Tedros and Yohannes, our two Ethiopian colleagues who were brutally murdered…”

“Over one year on since the killing of our three colleagues in Tigray Region on 24 June 2021, I had hoped to meet the grieving families and continue our discussions with the Federal Government of Ethiopia about the case,” the President said today, “instead, I was not granted permission from the authorities to visit Tigray, which meant that I could not pay tribute to the families of Tedros and Yohannes, our two Ethiopian colleagues who were brutally murdered, or inform the families on the progress of MSF’s internal review of the incident. I was also unable to meet any representatives from the Federal Government to continue the discussion about their investigation into the killing of our three staff, despite requests sent to the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Justice, and Defense.”

On 24 June 2021, three MSF staff members were killed in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. María Hernández Matas, Tedros Gebremariam Gebremichael and Yohannes Halefom Reda, were killed while “providing lifesaving support to people in the war-torn area of Tigray.”

Ms Paula Gil’s statement further said that “we are distraught that, after more than one year of engagement with the Ethiopian authorities, we still do not have any credible answers on what happened to our colleagues that day. My visit was intended to be a decisive step in our engagement with the Federal Government of Ethiopia, and it is now time to reflect on our next steps. We will keep pursuing accountability for the killing of our colleagues using all possible means and avenues.”

MSF further said that after 20 months of conflict, now coupled with rising food insecurity and malnutrition, I am extremely concerned by the dire situation faced by populations without access to life-saving medical services. AS

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