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This article was published 11/12/2020 (361 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
An airplane full of medical supplies is on its way to Ethiopia, where thousands of people have been killed or displaced due to an ongoing conflict in the country’s northern region of Tigray.
Ethio-Canadian Network for Advocacy and Support — whose vice-chair is Garden City resident Markos Tegegn — is co-ordinating a shipment of bandages, nasal cannulas, syringes, needles, sutures, catheters and other medical items to the East African country.
The turmoil in Ethiopia can be described as a "war," Tegegn said. The conflict is rooted in a political dispute between leaders in Tigray and the country’s federal government. According to media reports, thousands of civilians have been displaced or killed since Nov. 4, when the prime minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, ordered his military to strike Tigray forces.
"You can imagine, when these things happen, when you’re not prepared, the impact that will have. So because of that, they were in dying need of medical supplies in order to look after the wounded ones," Tegegn said. "It’s more than needed right now."
Ethio-Canadian Network for Advocacy and Support is a Canada-wide non-profit organization comprised of Ethiopian diaspora, whose goal is to work with government agencies and community partners to support people affected by conflict.
The organization has been working with International Hope Canada, the Embassy of Ethiopia in Ottawa, and Ethiopian Airlines on this particular project. The airline company, which flies out of Pearson International Airport in Toronto, agreed to deliver the shipment for free, Tegegn said.
IHC is a Winnipeg-based non-profit organization that collects medical supplies that have passed their expiry date but are still safe to use, and distributes them to hospitals and clinics in under-resourced countries. Though IHC doesn’t normally get involved with humanitarian crises, president Kevin Stewart said, the organization agreed to work with Ethio-Canadian Network for Advocacy and Support.
Stewart explained that IHC had been storing medical supplies in a temporary warehouse for a few months and needed to vacate the space by mid-December. After being approached by Tegegn, IHC agreed to donate the items that were leftover in the warehouse to the cause.
"It worked out quite well," Stewart said. IHC ships between six and nine sea-can containers to various countries per year, he added.
"We didn’t have quite enough material to fill another container to go anywhere right now."
Stewart said due to the urgency of the matter, the shipment is being delivered by air. A truck was loaded with supplies and left for Toronto on Dec. 8. The shipment is expected to arrive in Ethiopia within two weeks. Tegegn said the country’s Ministry of Health will receive and distribute the supplies from there.
Tegegn said Ethio-Canadian Network for Advocacy and Support is working with the Embassy of Ethiopia to fundraise money and acquire additional medical supplies to send to Ethiopia.
The Times community journalist
Sydney Hildebrandt was the community journalist for The Times until September 2021, when she joined our sister paper, the Brandon Sun.