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Ethiopia: Healthcare Crisis Exacerbates in Oromia As Violence Takes Toll On Critical Infrastructure

Addis Abeba — The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said critical infrastructures including health facilities and water systems have been seriously affected in the Oromia region due mainly to the ongoing violence.

The Committee said on 22 June, nearly all 42 existing health posts have been looted or damaged in Begi, a district of 100,000 inhabitants in the West Wollega zone in conflict ravaged Western Oromia. Patients with life-threatening medical conditions cannot receive urgent care because health facilities are no longer functioning in the district according to the press release.

“We have a shortage of emergency drugs. No operating room sets. We do not have beds. And now there is also a shortage of water supply due to the damage to the water reservoir. The community pharmacy was also destroyed, and all the drugs and materials were taken,” Dr Alemayehu Kiri, Guduru Primary Hospital’s medical director, said.

The walls of the hospital, which serve more than five districts, were riddled with bullets, and its water tank was damaged. Beds, equipment, surgical sets, medicines, and ambulances were looted, ICRC further sad.

Following an increased influx of people who fled their homes to the area, the number of patients has risen drastically making it extremely difficult for staff to provide healthcare services to the population, it stated.

Despite the extension of operations to the western part of the Oromia region and to Guji, the capacity of the ICRC and the ERCS is overstretched in their efforts to provide protection and assistance to populations most affected by the violence in areas where few if any other humanitarian organizations operate in Western Oromia.

“We have had to make difficult choices, targeting places with little presence of other humanitarian actors,” said Julian Jaccard, the ICRC head of sub-delegation in Nekemte. “People in these areas have suffered immensely and for a long time.”

In May, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the humanitarian situation in East and West Wollega zones of the Oromia regional state has shown to worsen due to continued insecurity from conflict since 2020. Even though there is improved access, about 859,000 displaced people are in need of protection and other multi-sectoral support, OCHA said in its latest situation report on Ethiopia.

The ICRC said since January 2023, it has assisted 62,800 people with food, household supplies, shelter, and cash in the Oromia region. Furthermore it regularly supported 12 health facilities with medical supplies and equipment, helped 32,500 people restore or maintain family links, facilitated access to clean water for 187,000 people, including those in detention places. AS

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