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Italian Health Entity Ready for Ethiopia’s Tigray Mission in Response to Bishop’s Plea

The official logo of Doctors with Africa CUAMM

The Italy-based non-governmental organization focused on healthcare, Doctors with Africa CUAMM, is planning to launch “in the next five weeks” an intervention to alleviate the suffering of civilians in the ongoing violence in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

This, the leadership of the organization says, is in response to an earlier appeal made by a Catholic Bishop in the warrying region who asked for help.

In his message in January, Bishop Tesfasellassie Medhin of Ethiopia’s Adigrat Diocese, which covers the conflict-ridden region in Tigray, pleaded for help saying the region was in “a dire humanitarian situation.”

“I am writing to you this appeal once again with the terrible/dire humanitarian situation which we are experiencing here in the Tigray Region because of the war which started on November 4, 2020,” Bishop Medhin wrote.

He added, “It is a daily reality to hear people dying with the fighting consequences, lack of food, insulin and other basic medicines. Millions of people are displaced from their homes looking for safety and to save their lives.”

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Responding to the appeal in a report by Vatican News, the Director of CUAMM (University College for Aspiring Missionary Doctors), Fr. Dante Carraro, has said the organization will not remain silent amid the suffering of the people.

“The situation in Tigray is very serious. The little information we have received tells of desperate people fleeing because they are afraid of massacres and violence,” Fr. Carraro who is a cardiologist says in the Friday, March 5 report.

The Italian-born Cleric and medic who has been at the helm of CUAMM since 2008 adds, “How can we remain indifferent to such a dramatic request, to such extreme need? When the Bishop asked us to intervene, telling us about the situation, we decided that we had to do something. We have been working in Ethiopia since 1980.”

“Thanks to funds allocated by the Italian Episcopal Conference, through Caritas Italiana, and in collaboration with the Ethiopian Catholic Church, Doctors with Africa CUAMM will launch an intervention in the next few weeks in the area between Adigrat and Makellè, the main towns in the region,” Vatican News has reported.

Founded in 1950, Doctors with Africa CUAMM was the first non-governmental organization focused on healthcare to be recognized by the Italian government, according to information on the organization’s website.

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It is now the country’s leading organization working to protect and improve the wellbeing and health of vulnerable communities in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Working with international and local partner teams, CUAMM provides medical aid and expertise in eight African countries. These are Angola, Central African Republic (CAR), Ethiopia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.

CUAMM also carries out capacity-building activities and conducts and disseminates scientific research with the end goal of ensuring that the fundamental human right to health can be enjoyed by everyone everywhere.

According to Vatican News, CUAMM’s support in Ethiopia will focus on three Tigrayan health centres run by various Religious Orders, which have been heavily damaged. One of these facilities is Idaga Hamus centre, not far from Adigrat, which was reportedly partially destroyed during the conflict.

Shire and Alitena health facilities located in the Central region near Adua, which also suffered partial destruction, are also set to benefit from CUAMM’s support.

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The Doctors with Africa will also provide drugs and medical supplies to Ayder Hospital, a government health facility in Tigray.

The funds will also go into motivating the health personnel to return to providing assistance to the population, the organization has said.

There has been a global call on Ethiopia to end the war in Tigray which, according to the U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, has led to a “growing number of reports of atrocities and human rights violations and abuses.”

Violence broke out in Tigray on November 4 after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed-led government ordered a military offensive against the authorities in Tigray region of Ethiopia.

The offensive was reportedly triggered by the alleged attack on the federal military’s Northern Command stationed in the region by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Ethiopian opposition parties claim that at least 52,000 people died in the nation’s northern Tigray region since the conflict began there on November 4.

A further three million people have been forced to flee their homes and even more are dependent on food aid, The Tigray Independence Party, National Congress of Great Tigray, and Salsay Weyane Tigray said in a statement last month.

In separate attacks last month, fires that appeared to have been deliberately set destroyed more than 500 structures around Gijet, a town in Southern Tigray, even as the Ethiopian government said that most fighting has stopped in the region.

In his letter in January, Bishop Medhin called on the “concerned bodies to coordinate and make all necessary efforts” to respond to the pressing humanitarian need in the region.