“Almost two weeks since the murders of our colleagues, no one has claimed responsibility and the circumstances around their deaths remain unclear,” says MSF operations director Teresa Sancristoval. “This is why we are requesting an immediate investigation by relevant parties to establish the facts of the incident that resulted in their deaths and to provide us with a detailed account of what happened and who was responsible. At this terrible time, we have made the extremely painful but necessary decision to suspend our activities in several areas of Tigray.”
The three MSF team members who were killed were wearing clothing that identified them as MSF and travelling in a clearly marked MSF vehicle. They had been working in the area since February 2021, where they were engaged exclusively in medical and humanitarian activities, in alignment with international humanitarian law and in dialogue and agreement with all parties.
“The murder of our colleagues—María, Tedros and Yohannes—is a tragic example of the complete disregard for human life that our teams have witnessed in this conflict,” says Sancristoval. “The levels of violence against civilians and the atrocities committed in Tigray are utterly shocking.”
Since the conflict in Tigray began in November 2020, medical staff and aid workers have been directly targeted, while health facilities and ambulances have been looted, destroyed or exploited for military purposes. MSF staff have been threatened and beaten, and have witnessed armed incursions into health facilities supported by MSF. Aid organisations, including MSF, have been repeatedly undermined by public statements casting unwarranted suspicion on their activities, thereby jeopardising the safety of their teams on the ground.