Addis Abeba – The Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS) “strongly condemned” the killing by “armed forces” of its staff, Mengist Minyil, who was an ambulance driver in the North Gonder branch of the Ethiopian Red Cross, in Amhara regional state. ERCS also said injured patients who were onboard the ambulance were killed by the unnamed armed forces along with the driver, and issued an appeal to armed forces to refrain from such acts.
According to ERCS, Mengist was providing humanitarian services in West Dembiya and was providing life saving service at his assigned place in Wolkait Woreda, Adi Remets Hospital. He was on duty transporting injured patients of conflict from Adwa, Tigray region. The statement said that he was killed along with injured patients on board the ambulance while he was driving one of the two ambulances from Adwa to Wolkait, Adi Remets Hospital.
As early as 12 November 2020, a week into the start of the war in Tigray, the ERCS had requested its logo to be respected in areas bordering the Amhara and Tigray regional states. ERCS said that after three of its ambulances with “a distinct display” of its logo have come under fire from what it said was “armed groups” in the border area of the two regional states.
The killing of Mengist brings the number of workers killed on duty since the onset of the war in Tigray to 27. Earlier this month, the killing of the IRC staff in a government airstrike in Shire, in the Tigray region, has triggered a flurry of global call by the international community for cessation of hostilities as well as the withdrawal of Eritrean forces from Tigray.
In September last year, the number sharply climbed from 12 to 23 as reports of the killings of additional 11 aid workers from the Relief Society of Tigray (REST, an NGO based in Tigray) was confirmed.
The body of Mengist was taken today to his birth place in western Belessa, in north Gonder zone of Amhara regional state where his funeral will take place later today. Mengist, 40, was a father two daughters, according to ERCS.
ERCS management and board said it expresses its deep admiration to Mengist and humanitarian workers who stood firm in the spirit of humanity to the point of making sacrifices, and have been guided by the principle of humanity during the last two years of war. “The outstanding humanitarian actions you perform will always be reflected in the association’s humanitarian archives alongside the martyrs of humanity,” ERCS said.
It once again appealed to all armed forces to protect the safety of humanitarian workers and volunteers of the Red Cross Society who are engaged in providing humanitarian services throughout the country and to carry out their humanitarian activities in a spirit of neutrality and nondiscrimination. AS