With no specific date to return home, the group of a guide and 18 Spanish tourists held for six days in northern Ethiopia, in the midst of an armed conflict, is now facing a shortage of medicines. Sintrom, a drug against blood coagulation, is the most urgently needed because one of the travelers runs out of stock. The mission is complex. The convoy is currently being held at a pension in a small rural town in Amhara, a focus of conflict between the rebel militias from Fano, facing the government of the country, and the Army. The region declared a state of emergency on Friday due to the situation of extreme insecurity. Tourists cannot leave the establishment, and only the group’s guide, Noelia, an employee of the Catalan travel agency Kananga, which chartered the trip, has been able to move with limitations until now under the tutelage of the guerrillas. “They have treated us well,” she explained to those responsible for the agency in one of her latest communications. Foreign Affairs recommended not to travel to the area, but the travel agency that organized the trip ensures that the notice did not exist. The families are hoping for a prompt evacuation because in the last hours the militias have lost ground according to Reuters, but Foreign Affairs does not confirm any action for security reasons.
Noelia was in charge of going to a nearby hospital to get Sintrom. She was escorted by three militiamen in a tuk-tuk. At the health center she was told that they did not have them, but that there was the possibility of finding supplies in a nearby town. She returned to the hotel-barracks and contacted those responsible for Kanganga, who in turn called the affected person’s doctor. “There are equivalent drugs that can replace Sintrom,” she told them. Now Noelia hopes to be able to move and get this and other drugs in the short term if the situation does not unblock before. Tourists also fear malaria: it is fought with daily pills and they have also run out of stock. “The medication is running out and we are not in adequate sanitary conditions,” Núria, one of the tourists, confirmed this Wednesday morning on the Rac1 station. “It’s full of fleas and mosquitoes, we don’t have running water and the food is very precarious,” she remarked. Fearing that the situation would worsen, the woman has appealed to the authorities. “It is urgent that they hurry to get us out of here.”
The resolution is not easy. The different embassies (there are affected of different nationalities) work together to find a joint solution. The hope is that the Ethiopian government and the militias, former allies of the Army, reach an agreement in the next few hours or days and the tension subsides. This would facilitate a common external intervention. But in a country that experienced an armed conflict in the Tigray region (adjacent to Amhara) between the end of 2020 and November 2022, everything seems uncertain. “The situation is not easy and if the conflict drags on, we don’t know what could happen,” admits Miquel Ribas, Kananga’s director of operations to EL PAÍS. According to the person in charge, the first rescue options proposed by the embassies could not be executed: “There was talk of transferring them through the Red Cross or creating a humanitarian cordon, but it was not done.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that, since August last year, the travel recommendations included on the department’s website advise against traveling to Amhara for security reasons. The last time these recommendations were updated was on August 4, when the Ethiopian Government’s decision to declare a state of emergency in the region was included, but the notice not to travel to the area was already included in the previous version. , April of this year, and had not changed since August 2022, according to the same spokesman. Ribas defends, on the contrary, that “there was no record” of a recommendation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to avoid the Amhara area where his group is located. “We have already eliminated Tigray from the tour due to the situation that was being experienced, but we could not know that a conflict like this would occur. The first interested in avoiding problems are us, ”he alleges.
In a subsequent statement on Wednesday, Kananga points out that “in no case was the trip organized by areas where there was any armed conflict or news that it could occur,” according to the information they had. He also assures that he had transferred to travelers the information established on the Ministry’s website on the travel recommendations applicable to the destination. Núria, through radio communication, reinforces this idea: “I consulted the Foreign Affairs page and I did not find any notice.”
You can follow EL PAÍS Catalunya on Facebook and Twitteror sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter
What affects the most is what happens closer. To not miss anything, subscribe.
Subscribe to continue reading
Read without limits
#Spanish #tourists #held #Ethiopia #warn #lack #medicines #conditions #precarious