Frontline Workers

are our Heroes in Times of Crisis

By Hans Henric Lundquist, Swedish Ambassador to Ethiopia
Hans Lundquist Ambassador of Swedish to Ethiopia and Djibouti
UNICEF Ethiopia/2022/MulugetaAyene
18 July 2022

I just returned from Afar in northern Ethiopia to see the impact of the ongoing humanitarian crisis on women and children and UNICEF’s response.

While the fighting has de-escalated, children and their families are still recovering – recovering from the unimaginable horrors they have witnessed, displaced and suffering from a lack of basic services due to the looting and damage to health centers, schools and other basic infrastructure.

Afar has also been hit by drought, further exacerbating the situation. The drought has caused further displacement and malnutrition rates are spiking. Overall, 1.7 million people are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance and nearly 70,000 children are severely malnourished.

It is deeply saddening to see the devastation that conflict and drought brings – and the fact that the most innocent – the children – bear the brunt. It is also incredibly humbling and inspiring to meet the frontline workers who are working tirelessly, under many constraints, to help those in need.

Hans Lundquist Ambassador of Swedish to Ethiopia and Djibouti
UNICEF Ethiopia/2022/MulugetaAyene

Dr. Hussein Aden, CEO of Dubti Hospital, is one of the heroes that I met.  A passionate, soft spoken man who is running a hospital that is overcrowded and overflowing with mothers and babies in need of lifesaving treatment.

Dr. Aden told me he has seen an 8 to 10-fold increase in severe malnutrition cases over the past few months. He also told me that the hospital is in need of renovation, more staff and resources. The hospital did not even have an ambulance. Normally, a hospital of this size has four.

Hans Lundquist Ambassador of Swedish to Ethiopia and Djibouti
UNICEF Ethiopia/2022/MulugetaAyene

The UNICEF and partners are doing everything they can; providing essential medicines, Ready-to-use therapeutic food and milk and oxygen tanks for the most complicated cases of severe acute malnutrition.

Needs are outpacing the response. 

Dr. Hussein and his staff are doing everything they can, but the international community needs to do more to help.  

We need to provide more support and we need to act now.

We need to help Dr. Aden and the other heroes on the frontlines so they can do their job and save the lives of children.

Afar
©UNICEF Ethiopia/2022/Mulugeta Ayene