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News: Senior citizens of Tigray stage demonstrations in Mekelle over unpaid pension

Pensioners demonstrating in Mekelle, Tigray (Photo: Dimtsi Weyane/Facebook)

By Mihret G Kristos @MercyG_kirstos

Addis Abeba – Hundreds of retired civil servants in the Tigray region have staged demonstrations in the capital Mekelle, protesting against interrupted pensions following the war that has ravaged the region.

Among the protestors is Gebremichael Negusse (PhD) who had been working at the Tigray Agricultural Research Institute for about 35 years. It has been Six years since he retired, and he has not been paid his pension money for two years.

“We all have a family. This [pension] is our only income to provide for our family,” he told Addis Standard from the very scene of the protests, adding that the federal and regional governments must respect the rights of the senior citizens.

Kiflemaryam Yirgaw public relations head of the Mekelle Pensioners Association told Addis Standard that the demonstrators haven’t received their monthly payments for two years, and they called on the government to take urgent action to address the problem.

“We are asking the government to respect our rights,we should be paid the money we contributed during our employment,” said Kiflemaryam. 

He added “following the interruption of the pension payment, senior citizens have been exposed to dire situations, and some of them with severe illnesses are dying of hunger and lack of treatment”.

According to Kiflemaryam, there are over 9000 pensioners in the association and about 15,000 all over Mekelle. Of these close to 8000 are affected by chronic diseases and more than 500 pensioners have died of hunger since the war broke out in Tigray.

In Mekelle, the protesters traveled to the office of the interim regional president, where the Chief Cabinet Secretariat Amanuel Aseffa assured them that the interim administration is working with the federal government to address their grievances, according to Kiflemaryam.

On 09 February, Addis Standard reported that tens of thousands of Tigrayan civil servants who have not seen their paycheck, especially since June 2021, when Tigrayan forces recaptured most part of the region, continued sustaining hardships while lingering in despair waiting for the dividend of the November peace deal to trickle. 

In April, the Interim Regional Administration has paid the civil servants their three months salary once. AS

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