War on Tigray and the Relentless Attack on Humanitarian Workers

War on Tigray and the Relentless Attack on Humanitarian Workers

One of the alarming features of the genocidal war waged on Tigray has been the unprecedented extent to which humanitarian aid workers have been targeted. Recently, the entire world was shocked and dismayed by the arbitrary expulsion of seven high-level UN officials:

  1. Mr. Adele Khodr, UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia.
  2. Mr. Sonny Onyegbula, Monitoring, Reporting and Advocacy Team Leader: United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights.
  3. Mr. Kwesi Sansculotte, Peace and Development Advisor: UNOCHA.
  4. Mr. Saeed Mohamoud Hersi: Deputy Head of Office: Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Ethiopia.
  5. Mr. Grant Leaity, Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator: Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Ethiopia. 
  6. Ms. Ghada Eltahir Mudawi: Acting Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator: Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Ethiopia.
  7. Mrs. Marcy Vigoda, Head of the office: Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Ethiopia.

These officials were given 72 hours to leave the country by the Ethiopian regime against all international conventions and norms of practice.  This unprecedented action came only two days after the United Nations humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, said that a man-made famine in Tigray was condemned by members of the international community [1, 2, 3, 4]. This is not the first time that the Ethiopian government is targeting humanitarian aid organizations. On July 30th, 2021, the Ethiopian government also ordered the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Doctors Without Borders, and Al Maktoum Foundation to cease all of their aid operations in Ethiopia. 

This action, however, should be understood in light of the persistent hostility toward humanitarian workers that has characterized the operation of the Ethiopian regime and its Eritrean allies. As a result of this hostility humanitarian workers have been targeted and scores have been killed.

Table 1 shows a list of 28 identified Tigrayan humanitarian aid worker victims killed across different districts of Tigray who died at the hands of the invading Ethiopian and Eritrean forces. These aid workers were members of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), Relief Society of Tigray (REST), Red Cross Society of Tigray Branch, and the International Committee for the Development of Peoples (CISP) respectively.

Full NameGenderDistrict of KillingJob Description
1Yohannes Halefom RedaMaleTembien, Abi AddiCoordination Assistant
2Tedros Gebremariam GebremichaelMaleTembien, Abi AddiDriver
3Birhanu AlefeMaleBora-SelewaCoordinator
4HaileMaleBora-SelewaDriver
5Aman Desta AbayMaleKola Tembien, GuyaInventory Control Officer
6Tensay Seifu MarshaMaleHawzenDriver
7Gebrecherkos Gebru HaderaMaleAbergele, YechilaDriver
8Birhane Kiros YeebiyoMaleGulomakedaForeman
9Hadush Alemayo MamoMaleAbergele, YechilaConstruction Foreman
10Kiros Seged EngidaMaleHawzenWarehouse Guard
11Tefera Shushay GebremeskelMaleShireSecurity Guard
12Gebregiorgis Tela TesfayMaleHawzenTractor Operator
13Gebrehiwet Zeray GebrekidanMaleKola TembienDriver
14Gebreegziabher Gebreeyesus RedaMaleKilte AwulaeloCommunity Facilitator
15Tsegay Teklemariam GebrekidanMaleEmbaseneyti, NebeletDriver
16Weldegerima Belay GebruMaleAhferomDriver
17Amdekiros Aregawi GebruMaleAdwaAmbulance Driver
18Yirga Gebrehiwet BerheMaleEntichoAmbulance Driver
19Zemichael Moges GebremichaelMaleAxumVolunteer
20Mesele GezaeMaleAxumVolunteer
21Teamrat Godefay YosefMaleAxumVolunteer
22Kibrom GebremariamMaleShireProject Coordinator
23Debesom AbrahaMaleAdigratZonal Board Member
24Hagos Teklay AssefaMaleHawzenVolunteer
25Dejen FissehaMaleTahtay AdiyaboAmbulance Driver
26Tesfay Fisseha BerihuMaleLaelay Adiyabo, Adi DaeroSecurity Guard
27Habenom Gebrye AbrahaMaleSamreAmbulance Driver
28Negasi KidaneMaleAdigratProject Coordinator
Table 1. List of identified Tigrayan humanitarian aid worker victims
1-2: Doctors Without Borders (MSF)
3-16: Relief Society of Tigray (REST)
17-27: Red Cross Society of Tigray Branch
28: International Committee for the Development of Peoples (CISP)

During his interview with the New York Times in late March 2021, the head of the Red Cross Society of Tigray branch, Mr. Berhanu Mekonnen, said that Eritrean soldiers had killed seven of his workers including a driver who was dragged from his ambulance and shot. 

The victim listed on number 17 in Table 1, Amdekiros Aregawi Gebru (47), was an ambulance driver for the Tigrayan branch of the  Red Cross Society, mentioned by  Mr. Mekonnen in his interview. On the afternoon of November 25th, 2020, Mr. Amdekiros was hurriedly driving a Tigrayan pregnant mother in labor from a local clinic to Adwa hospital. According to eyewitnesses, including his colleagues, Mr. Amerdkiros was shot while en route to the hospital by the invading Eritrean soldiers. Mr. Amdekiros’s actions to save the life of the pregnant mother required bravery and passion. It is the same bravery and passion embodied by all humanitarian aid workers who have risked their personal safety to come to the rescue of vulnerable communities in this tragic war.  Sadly the inhumane Eritrean soldiers were impervious to the neutrality and protected status of humanitarian workers in conflict. They dragged the expecting mother and Mr. Amdekiros from the vehicle and attempted to end his life with a gunshot before seizing the ambulance. 

After being shot, Mr. Amdekiros, whom the Eritrean soldiers thought was dead, tied his wound and then he managed to take the pregnant mother to the hospital. The mother delivered her baby safely with the help of the doctors and nurses in the hospital but unfortunately, the brave aid worker died shortly due to blood loss. 

This was not the only painful news for his family members. His younger brother, Binyam Aregawi Gebru (32), was also murdered in Adwa on the same day protecting the properties of his family of which Mr. Amdekiros was not aware. Witnesses and family members of the victims said the Eritrean soldiers looted household goods and cars after shooting Binyam in front of his mother and father. 

Both Amdekiros and Binyam were born in Eritrea, near a marketplace in the center of Asmara, in a street called Enda Mariam (እንዳ ማርያም). Their families were successful merchants in Asmara, Eritrea. Their father, priest Aregawi Gebru, was very famous, friendly, and loved by many in the city of Asmara. Their family, leaving everything they owned in Eritrea behind, were deported to Tigray before the Ethio-Eritrea war. They moved to Tigray and started life over again. The Eritrean soldiers invaded Tigray in November 2020 and looted everything priest Aregawi owned in Adwa, Tigray.  

Desta Haileselassie Hagos

I document and write about the genocidal war on Tigray.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Tigray prevailed

    የተሰረቀው የትግራይ ንብረት በዕፅፍ ድርብ ብሎም ከተቻለ በአስር እጥፍ መመለስ አለበት፥፥የባለሀብት በየትኛውም ከተማ የሚገኝ የመንግት ንብረት ወደ ትግራይ መሸኘት አለበት በገዛ መኪናቸው፥፥እንዲያው ለታጋዮች ቤተሰባው ላጡ ወገኖች መቋቋሚያ ይዋል፥፥ትግራይ ያደገች ቢሆን ኑሮ ሶሻል ዕገዛ ገንዘብ ጦርነቱ ለተጎዳና ቤተሰብ ላጣ የገንዘብ ዕርዳታ ያስፈገዋል፥፥ትራምፕ ሜክኮ ሹድ ፐይ ር ዘዎል ብሎ ነበር ሙርከኞች በጉልበት አማራ በዘረፈው ብረት ብቻ ይሆን በሀብቱ ትግይን ተገዶ መገንባት አለበት፥፥ስሆም ሁሉም ነገር ሁሉም ሃብትና ንብረት ወደ ትግራይ ይወሰድ፥፥ነፍሰ በላና አራጅ ወታደር ከትግይ ጉሮሮ የቀሙ ልቦ መስደድ ኢሕጋዊ ብቻ ሳይሆን ኢሰብኣዊ ጸረ ሰዕታት ተጋሩ ነው፥፥በጣም የሚገርመው ማመን የሚያዳግት ሀቅ ሕፃናት በረሀብ እየሞቱ ነፍሰ በላ የኢትዮጵያ ወታደር ቀለብ ከየት መጣ ከቀይ መስቀል ከትግይ መንግስ ከሆነ መንግት ሕዝቡ ሞት አይገደውም እንዴ ያሰኛል እባካቹ ህጻናትና እናቶቻችንን መላው ተጋሩ በረሀብ እየሞቱ ለፖለቲካ ትርፍና አልባሌ እድምታ ነፍሰ ገዳይ አትቀልቡ፥፥አብይ ፀረ ትግራይ ፀረ አማራ ፀረ ኢዮጵያ የምንል ከሆነ ለርሱ የሚታዘዝ እርሱን የሚደግፍና የሚያጨበጭብ ማንውም የውስጥና ውጭ አካል ና ዜጋ ራ ሆነ ከፍተኛ ባለስልጣን ሁሉ የትግራይ የኦሮያ የመላው ብሔር ጠላት ው፥፥ሂለር ስድስት ሚን ይዶች በግል መሣሪያው አልገደለም ትዕዛዙን በሚያስተግዱ ለሰይጣናዊና ዘረኛ አስሳሰቡ ታዛዥ በሆኑ አካላት ነው አብይም እንደዛው የትግራይ ህዝብ እያስራባቹ ጨፍጫፊ ቅጥረኛ ወታደር ትቀልቡ የሕፃናት ሞት ይብቃ፥፥ ብልፅግና ይወድማል ትግራይ ታሸንፋለች አሸንፋለችምም

  2. Tigray Prevail

    እንደተለመደው ይህ የመሪዎቻችን መግለጫ ጥላቻና መሰረተቢስ ጸረ ተጋሩ አመለካከት ለሌለው አስዋይ ለሆነ ሕዝብ ጥሩ መልዕክት ያዘለ ነው፥፥ይህን ለመፃፍ ያነሳሳኝ፥፥አንዳንድ አክትቪስት ለመላው ትግራዋይና ለቲዲኤፍ ሠራዊት አባላት የምንክረው አማራን ሳያገልሉና ሳያጠቁ ከአማራና ከሌላው ህብረብሔር ጋር አንድ በመሆን የሁሉም ጠላት የሆነን የብልፅግና ሥርዓት ለማፍረስና ፍርድ ለማቅረብ ተጣምው መስራት ና መታገል አለባቸው፥፥ ይህንን ሊሉ የቻሉበት የብልፅግና ደጋፊዎችና የሰፈር(የጎረቤት) ውስጥ ሌቦችና ወንጀለኞች ብረታውን እየዘረፉና እያዘረፉ ቲዲኤፍ እንደፈፀመው አድርገው ስም የማጠልሸት የተሰራ ስላለ ነው ፥፥በአሥራ ዘጠኝ ሰማንያ ሥስት ዓመተ ምህረት በአማራ ክልል የሚገኙ ከተሞች አንዷ የሚኖሩ ሰዎች እንደተናገሩት ገንዘብና ከፍተኛ ዋጋ የሚያወጡ ንብረቶቾ ብቻ ሳይሆን እህልና ዱቄት ብሎም ሊጥ በመንደረተኞቹ ተሰርቋል፥፥ይህ ከአከባቢው ነዋሪዎች የየግላቸውን ትውስታ ሲያካፉሉ የተደመጠ ነው፥ባለጋራውን ጨለማንና የአገር አለመረጋጋትን ግምት በማስገባት ጥቃት የሚያደርስ አንደነበር የቅርብ ጊዜ ትውስታ ነው፥፥ሁሉን ነገር በጠላት ላይ ማላከክ የተለመደና ከጠላት የሚጠበቅ ግን የማያስበረጝ ግ ነው ይላሉ ብዙዎች ፤በአንጻሩ ግን ሊያጠነክረንና ሊያተባን የሚያስችል መሆኑ ሁላችም እንስማማበታለን፥፥የትግራይ ህዝብ ሰላማዊና ለሰላም የቆመ ሆን ከጦርነቱ በፊት ና በኋላ በተደጋጋሚ ጊዜያት መላው ሕብረ ብሔር አምሓራን ጨምሮ ማለት ነው ከወገኑ ትግራይና ከህጋው የትግይ መንግስት ጋር በመቆም ህጋዊ ያልሆነንና በሕዝብ ያልተመረጠን የብፅግናን መንግስት እድሜ ለማስረዘም ሲል ልጆቹን ለጦርት እንዳይ ገብር ጥሪ ተላልፏል፥፥ይህ ጥሪ በብዙዎች የብልፅግና ደጋፊዎች አሉታዊ ምላሽ ተችሮታል፥መግለጫቸው ሰለቸን የፈሪነት ምልክት ነው በሶስት ቀን እናጠፋቸዋለን፥ወደ ሳሙና ው የምንቀይራቸው ፥ታሪክ ሳናስቀር እንጨርሳቸዋለን ወዘተ የሚሉ ኢሰብዓዊ ሆድ ደር ሰይጣናዊ ምላሾች ሲሰጡ ቆይተዋል፥፥የትግራይ ሰራዊት አማራን ማጥፋት ከፈለገ ቅድሚያ በዋናነት የትግራይ ሕዝብን ለማጥፋት ልጆቹንና እናቶቹን ሲገድሉ ንብረቱን ሲዘርፉና ያቃጥሉ የነበሩትን በእግሩ ስር ያሉትን ሙርከኞቹ ላይ እርምጃ መውሰድ ይችል ነበር፥፥እንነዚ ነፍሰ ገዳይ ምንደኛ ቅጥረኛ የኢትዮጵያ ወታደሮች ዓለም ብቻ ሳትሆን ህይወቴን ቤተሰቤን ይታደጋሉ ዘመነ መንግስቴን ያራዝማሉ በቤዛነት ይሞቱልኛል ያላቸው በብልፅግና መንግስት የተከዱ ከሰው ጋር ይሆን ከፎቶ ሾፕ ጋር የተነፃፀሩ የመላው የትግራይ ብቻ ሳይሆን ቅጥረኛ ፀረ ኢትዮጵያዊ ናቸው፥፥ኢትዮጵያን ለማጥፋት የሚሰራ የብልፅግና ካድሬ ጋር የሚሰለፍ ወታደር ፀረ ኢትዮጵያዊ ጸረ አማራ ነው፥፥የአብይ ጸረ ትግራዋይ ዓላማ ግቡን የመታው ምንደኛ ቅጥረኛ ሆድ አደር አፋሽ አጎንባሽ በሆነ ኢዮጵያዊ ተብዬ ወታደር ነው፥የአብይን ሰይጣናዊ ትዕዛዝና ለመፈፀምና ለማስፈፀም የሚሰራ ሁሉ የኢትዮጵያ ጠላት ነው፥፥የትግራዋይ ጠላት ሰለመሆኑ ከቃላት ጋጋታ ይልቅ በረሀብና በቦብም የሚሞት ህፃናትና እናቶች ማየቱ ይበቃል፥፥ዓብይን ግፋ በለው ሲሉ የነበሩ ፀረ ተጋሩእንደ ዮኒ ማኛ ና የመሳሰሉት አክቲቪስቶች ወሎ ስለተራበ ና ስለተፈናቀለ ዓብይ የአማራ ጠላት ነው ሲሉ መጀመራቸው አግራሞት ጭሯል፥ሁሉም በራሱ ላይ ሲደርስ ሊሰማውና ሊያሳርው ይጀምራል፥አሁንም ይህንን ጦርነት መቋጫ ለማበጀት የትግራይ ሰራዊትን በመጥረቢያና በዱላ ለመታገል መፍጨርጨር ሳይሆን ከ ትግራይ መንግሥት የቀረበን ጥሪ በመቀበል ራስን ከብልፅግናና የጥፋት ዓላማው በማግለል ከወገኑ ትግራይ ሠራዊት ጋር በመቆም የሁሉም ጠላት የሆነን የብልፅግና መንግሥት ለህግ ማቅረብ ነው፥፥ፊንፊኔ የቀበሮ ጉድጓድ የሚቸረቸርባት ኮረብታ አይደለችም፥፥ሕዝብን አጥፍቶ ከሕዝብ መሰወር አይቻልም ሲሉም አልሰማንም፥፥ትግራይ ዓባይ ሀገር ትሆለች፥አሸንፋለች፥ድልም የዘላዓለም ጌጧና መጠሪያዋ መለዮዋ ይሆናል፥፥
    All those brave heart Tegaru who gave their precious lives for the sake of Tigray, protecting their own people, will be remembered for eternity .Tigray will not be part of Ethiopia and should not be part and parcel of Ethiopia. If anyone dares and strives to impose this satanic vision of Ethiopianism upon Tigray and Tegaru, it will simply be the denial of the incalculable sacrifice of our beloved ones, children, mothers, sisters , elders, religious leaders and biblical scholars and all Tegaru from different walks of lives , including those who are condemned to remain for rest of their lives with tangible physical and psychological impairment, lost their eyes, legs, hands etc.

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