After food supplies ran out last week, the primary hospital in Ethiopia’s war-torn region of Tigray sent 240 patients home, officials said.
Despite the government’s declaration in March of a unilateral cease-fire to facilitate relief supplies, the decision by Ayder Referral Hospital in Tigray’s capital Mekelle highlights how little food aid is reaching the region.
About 360 patients remained who could buy their own food, according to one hospital official who did not want to be identified. He claimed that new patients without food or money were being turned away.
Two nurses told media that those who had to leave included babies with meningitis and tuberculosis, as well as a 14-year-old adolescent with HIV.
Patients and their families went hungry on Thursday, April 14, according to Tedros Fissehaye, a pediatrics ward nurse. He had to tour the wards on Friday, April 15, and inform them that there would be no more meals. There were ten patients left.
“Nobody shed a tear. We’ve been shedding tears for months. But every single nurse was depressed “He told media about it. “Pray for us,” the families implored, “and instead of dying here, let us go home and die there.”
Mulu Niguse, another pediatric nurse, said the hospital had ran out of 90 percent of its medication, but that they had received some HIV drugs last month and were treating other ailments with whatever antibiotics they could find. She predicted that the discharged children would die.
Lia Tadesse, Ethiopia’s Minister of Health, and Mitiku Kassa, the National Disaster Risk Management Commission’s chief, did not respond to calls for comment.
In November 2020, a conflict began between the central government and Tigray’s authorities. Only a trickle of food aid has entered Tigray since the military withdrew in July after months of violent warfare. According to the United Nations, 100 trucks of supplies are required every day. Convoys, on the other hand, have had difficulty passing, partially owing to fighting and partly due to bureaucratic delays.
According to Michael Dunford, regional head of the United Nations World Food Programme, 71 trucks have made it in since the government called a ceasefire on March 25. According to him, the federal government has cleared a third convoy, and WFP is negotiating with regional authorities for safe passage.
“It is critical that these convoys move, and go quickly. If not, we’ll witness an increase in hunger-related mortality “He told media about it.
More than 90% of Tigray’s population requires food assistance. Staff in Ayder have been working without pay since July and are relying on the hospital for sustenance. Nurse Mulu claimed that her kids only ate once a day.
Since the food ran out, one doctor said he’d discharged two cancer patients who were awaiting procedures, and he’d operated on a third on Tuesday who could only afford milk.
The hospital has no cancer medications, according to the doctor, who showed photographs of a 2-year-old girl with a bulging tumor in her eye and a 14-year-old male who was hooked up to a drip since there was nothing else available.
He lamented, “If you come to the hospital, it is so vacant.”