Israeli Doctors Work To Alleviate Ethiopia’s Overlooked Humanitarian Crisis

Medical personnel help Ethiopian hospitals treat civil-war victims, believing “aid has no color.”

<p>Three members of the Israeli delegation that landed in Ethiopia on April 12, 2022, from left: Brigadier General Dr. Tarif Bader, chief medical officer of Kaplan Medical Center; Dr. Elhanan Bar-On, director of Sheba Medical Center’s Israel Center for Humanitarian Emergency and Disaster Medicine; and Dr. Avinoam Pirogovsky, deputy director of Clalit Health Services Hospital Division. (SID-Israel)</p>

The world has taken little notice of the civil war raging in Ethiopia for the last two years.

This greatly troubles Ethiopian-born Israeli parliamentarian Gadi Yevarkan. This week, he is leading a top-level Israeli medical fact-finding mission to his native country.

“It is estimated that over half a million people have died in this war, millions have been displaced from their homes, and over 10 million people are on the verge of starvation, according to a UN report,” Yevarkan posted on Instagram.

“I, like every Israeli, proudly see the humanitarian efforts of healthcare workers and civil society organizations in the context of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. At the same time, I am excited that finally, after a lengthy work process, an Israeli delegation &mldr; will convey to the world in general and the Ethiopian people in particular, a message of deep friendship between Israel and Ethiopia.”

The U.N. estimates over half a million people have died in Ethiopia’s civil war. (Creative Commons)

A couple of months ago, Yevarkan asked Alon Bar, director general of The Society for International Development’s Israel branch (SID-Israel) to organize a roundtable meeting in the Knesset to raise awareness and discuss how Israel could help.

“It was clear that the medical field is the most urgent thing we should address,” Bar said.

“Although we thought no one will have interest in this, with the Ukraine war going on, we had 80 participants, including 12 members of Knesset and senior staff from several hospitals and from Tel Aviv University.”

A top-level Israeli medical and governmental delegation land in Ethiopia in mid-April. (SID-Israel)

SID-Israel coordinated the delegation of officials from Clalit Health Services, various hospitals and three members of Knesset “to see how we can help alleviate suffering from the ongoing civil war.”

The Israelis are meeting with hospital and regional health bureau officials in Gondar and with the Ethiopian Minister of Health and senior ministry representatives in Addis Ababa before returning to Israel in time for Passover.

“The idea is to try to create a program where Israeli hospitals will ‘adopt’ hospitals around the war zone in Ethiopia, to support them with training and knowhow and hopefully also with equipment,” said Bar.

“Beilinson Hospital [in Petah Tikva] has already been doing this with a hospital in Ethiopia, and we want to duplicate that,” he says.

“Humanitarian aid has no color,” said Yevarkan. “This is our duty as Israelis and as Jews.”

Produced in association with ISRAEL21c.