ADDIS ABABA, 27 June 2021 – Medical aid group, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) says it is horrified by the murder of three of its staff in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.
MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders, says it lost contact with the team on Thursday while they were traveling in the northern region.
The bodies of two Ethiopian staff and their Spanish colleague were found Friday morning.
“No words can truly convey all our sadness, shock and outrage against this horrific attack,” MSF said Friday in a statement.
The aid workers had apparently been taken out of their vehicle and executed.
The victms names have been given as Maria Hernandez, 34, an emergency coordinator who started working for MSF six years ago.
Her two Ethiopian colleagues were Tedros Gebremariam Gebremichael, 31, who was hired as a driver for MSF last May and Yohannes Halefom Teda, 31, an assistant coordinator of humanitarian assistance who joined MSF last February.
“It is unthinkable that they paid for this work [providing assistance to people] with their lives,” the MSF statement added.
So far, no group, individual or organization has claimed responsibility for the attack and executions.
The Ethiopian government blamed an unknown “irresponsible group” for the executions, apparently referencing fighters loyal to the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF).
Ousted leaders of the TPLF, who are on the run, have denied any involvement.
Ethiopian authorities have been calling on humanitarian agencies to allow themselves to be escorted by federal forces.
Reports say the fighting in Tigray escalated this week, with TPLF fighters seizing back towns that had fallen into the control of Ethiopian federal forces, and reportedly killing dozens of people.
The war in Tigray started early last November when Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent federal forces into Tigray to punish leaders of the TPLF whom Addis Ababa blamed for an attack on military bases in which 50 soldiers were killed and weapons looted.
The TPLF has denied any wrongdoing and while the government of PM Abiy Ahmed claimed victory shortly after the war started, TPLF leaders have vowed to fight on.