Ethiopia

MSF urges Ethiopian government to respond to news report on the killings of our staff

Investigation attributes responsibility for the killings to members of the Ethiopian military.

South Sudan 2014 © Valérie Batselaere/MSF

On June 24, 2021, 31-year-old Tedros Gebremariam, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) driver; 35-year-old María Hernandez, MSF emergency coordinator; and 32-year-old Yohannes Halefom Reda, MSF assistant coordinator, were traveling in the Tigray region of Ethiopia when MSF lost contact with them. On June 25, their vehicle was found empty and their lifeless bodies were found 100 to 400 meters away.

Paula Gil, president of MSF Spain, gave the following statement in response to a New York Times investigation into the killings of our colleagues.

Portrait

Yohannes Halefom (left), María Hernández (center), and Tedros Gebremariam (right). 

Today, March 17, The New York Times published an investigation into the killings of our colleagues María Hernández, Tedros Gebremariam, and Yohannes Halefom in Tigray, Ethiopia, on June 24, 2021. The story places responsibility for the killings on the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), including the direct involvement of an ENDF commander.

We urge the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) to respond to this reporting, which attributes responsibility for the intentional killings of our colleagues to members of its 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. 

Both in public and bilaterally, we have engaged both parties present in the area where the killings took place—the ENDF and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (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. 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.