Local hospitals in Mekelle, the capital of Ethiopia’s Tigray region, were running out of medical supplies to treat the injured, aid workers said Sunday, a day after the prime minister declared “victory” in the embattled region and the army announced it had taken control of the area.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Saturday that Mekelle had been “captured,” after giving forces of the Tigray People's Liberation Front, or TPLF, a 72-hour ultimatum to surrender to the national government. Abiy announced a military offensive against the regional government in Tigray on November 4, saying it was in response to an attack by Tigray forces on a federal military base.
Authorities have not confirmed whether there were any deaths in an offensive Saturday, but the International Committee of the Red Cross noted that the Ayder Referral Hospital in Mekelle was lacking body bags for the deceased
According to the ICRC, roughly 80% of patients at the hospital were suffering from trauma injuries.
"The hospital is running dangerously low on sutures, antibiotics, anticoagulants, painkillers and even gloves," Maria Soledad, the head of operations for the ICRC in Ethiopia, was quoted as saying in a Sunday press release from the ICRC.
"The influx of injured comes more than three weeks after supply chains were disrupted into Mekelle,” she added.
Telecommunication and internet services in the Tigray region have been cut for weeks, making it nearly impossible for journalists and aid workers to confirm reports of violence.
Tens of thousands have fled the area for neighboring Sudan. Some reports say thousands have been killed since violence broke out earlier this month.
"God bless Ethiopia and its people!" Prime Minister Abiy said in a statement. "We have entered Mekelle without innocent civilians being targets."
But the leader of the TPLF forces told the Reuters news agency they were not giving up.
"Their brutality can only add [to] our resolve to fight these invaders to the last," TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael said in a text message. Asked by Reuters if that meant his forces would continue fighting, he replied, “Certainly. This is about defending our right to self-determination.”