NAIROBI, Kenya – Ethiopia’s federal government is in need of $1.4 billion to rebuild health facilities in the northern region, the health ministry has confirmed, citing massive looting in Tigray and neighboring Amhara and Afar states where the two-year-old war was fiercely fought.
Recently, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front [TPLF] signed an agreement with the Ethiopian government following the African Union-led peace initiative brokered by former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta.
Lia Tedese, Ethiopia’s health minister, told state media that health facilities were targeted all along the road, leaving people vulnerable despite previous investments. Tedese further says that the status of health care is also deplorable in other parts, especially within
Oromia and Benishangul Gumuz regions due to conflict.
“We have data limitations [from] the region of Tigray; it needs further clarification,” said Dr. Lia, but according to provisional data including data collected from non-governmental organizations, at least $1.4 billion is needed “to restore health facilities damaged due to conflict in Ethiopia.”
Although data from the Tigray region remains scarce, the ministry noted that a total of 3,666 health institutions and facilities have been destroyed in conflict-affected areas of the Amhara, Afar, Oromia and Benishangul-Gumuz regions. Most of the destroyed health centers are in the Tigray region, she added.
A UN report released in May this year revealed that through Western Oromia alone, 426 health facilities were non-functional due to looting and destruction due to violence. The fighting started in November 2020 and only subsided last week after the peace agreement between the TPLF and Addis Ababa.
US Today reports that despite the difficulty of obtaining clear numbers, it estimates that over 600,000 civilians and combatants have been killed in the war that saw Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s fortunes plummet. Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019.
Last year there was a report by Doctors Without Borders/Doctors Without Borders [MSF] of the 106 health facilities visited by MSF teams in the Tigray region from mid-December 2020 to early March 2021, nearly 70 percent had been looted and more than 30 percent had been damaged.
“While some looting may have been opportunistic, health facilities in most areas appear to have been deliberately vandalized to make them non-functional. In many health centres, such as in Debre Abay and May Kuhli in northwestern Tigray, teams found destroyed equipment, smashed doors and windows and medical and patient records strewn across the floors,” the report states.