Mekella Ambulance

Ethiopia: Hospitals in Mekelle struggling to care for wounded as medical supplies run out; Red Cross ambulances evacuate the injured

Addis Ababa (ICRC)–A day after fighting around the Tigray state capital Mekelle, local hospitals and health facilities are running dangerously low on medical supplies to care for the wounded as well as other mounting medical needs and conditions.
News release 29 November 2020 Ethiopia

Ambulances run by the Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS) have been transporting injured and deceased people to Ayder Referral Hospital in Mekelle.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) staff visited Ayder Referral Hospital yesterday and found approximately 80 percent of patients to be suffering from trauma injuries. The influx of wounded forced the hospital to suspend many other medical services so that limited staff and resources could be devoted to emergency medical care.

"The hospital is running dangerously low on sutures, antibiotics, anticoagulants, painkillers, and even gloves," said Maria Soledad, the head of operations for the ICRC in Ethiopia, who visited Ayder Referral Hospital and is currently in Mekelle. "The influx of injured comes more than three weeks after supply chains were disrupted into Mekelle. We need to ensure that health workers have the supplies and conditions they need to carry out their lifesaving work."

The hospital is also lacking in body bags for the deceased. Food supplies are also low, affecting particularly those recovering from surgery and requiring specific nutritional needs.

ICRC and ERCS cars and ambulances have thus far been able to move around Mekelle to evacuate the injured and deceased and visit medical facilities. The ICRC is engaging with authorities to expedite getting aid, particularly medical supplies, into Mekelle.

"The situation in Mekelle today is quiet and we hope that we will be able to get urgently needed assistance here soon," said Maria Soledad. "The staff at Ayder Referral Hospital are doing what they can with extremely limited resources, but they urgently need support."

At the same time, some 1,000 Eritrean refugees have reportedly arrived in Mekelle from refugee camps around Shire. Many are coming to ICRC's sub-delegation in Mekelle looking for food and other support. All are reliant on humanitarian assistance and supply chain disruptions into Mekelle make it difficult to meet these needs today.

"Interviews with staff in Mekelle are not currently possible. We will continue to share information as possible on the situation in Tigray."

For further information, please contact:

Aurélie Lachant, ICRC Geneva,, +44 79 244 64 05
Crystal Wells, ICRC Nairobi,, +254 716 897 265
or visit our website:

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