04:28 GMT17 January 2021
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    GENEVA (Sputnik) - Health facilities in the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray are running out of medical supplies necessary to treat patients wounded as a result of the recent armed clashes in the region's capital of Mek'ele, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Sunday.

    On Saturday, the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) conducted an offensive against the northern region's forces — the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) — and gained full control of Mek'ele, which used to be the TPLF's headquarters. While the Tigray forces have accused the ENDF of bombarding the city, Ethiopian Ambassador to Russia Alemayehu Tegenu Argau denied this in a comment to Sputnik, stressing that the operation targeted the TPLF, not civilians.

    "A day after fighting around the Tigray state capital Mekelle, local hospitals and health facilities are running dangerously low on medical supplies to care for the wounded as well as other mounting medical needs and conditions," the ICRC said in a press release.

    According to the organization, the Ethiopian Red Cross Society has been transporting injured people to Mek'ele's Ayder Referral Hospital, but the facility is quickly running out of drugs and equipment to provide adequate medical service, while roughly 80 percent of patients are suffering from traumatic injuries.

    ​The hospital lacks even body bags for the deceased, not to mention food needed by patients recovering from surgeries, according to the press release.

    "The hospital is running dangerously low on sutures, antibiotics, anticoagulants, painkillers, and even gloves. The influx of injured comes more than three weeks after supply chains were disrupted into Mekelle. We need to ensure that health workers have the supplies and conditions they need to carry out their lifesaving work," Maria Soledad, the head of operations for the ICRC in Ethiopia, said.

    Noting that the security situation in the city has improved, ICRC said it would cooperate with the authorities to deliver humanitarian aid, including medical supplies, to Mek'ele, where displaced residents continue to return in the wake of the violent conflict.

    In September, the TPLF, in opposition to the Ethiopian government, asked Addis Ababa for permission to hold regional elections, which were earlier postponed over COVID-19. After getting a rejection, the party organized elections on its own, which the federal government never recognized as legitimate.

    On November 4, the Ethiopian government launched a military operation in Tigray, accusing the TPLF of an attack on a local military base to hijack weapons and arm anti-government militia. According to the UN Refugee Agency, the hostilities forced over 43,000 Ethiopians to flee to Sudan.

    TPLF (Tigray People's Liberation Front), Ethiopia, Red Cross
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