A Driver With An Oregon-Based Medical Care Nonprofit Is Fatally Shot In Ethiopia While In A Convoy

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A staff member with an Oregon medical care nonprofit was killed when the team he was traveling with in a convoy was fired upon in Ethiopia, officials said Monday.

Mustefa Alkisim was a Medical Teams International driver traveling in the insecure Amhara region of Ethiopia Friday when men fired at the group, organization spokesperson Karen Kartes Piatt said in an email. Alkisim was killed and other staff members were injured, she said.

“As we mourn the loss of our colleague, we honor his memory and dedication to his work,” a post on the organization's Facebook page said.

At this time, the faith-based organization said it does not believe the shooting was an intentional, targeted attack on the staff or the organization, which was founded in 1979 and provides medical care for people in crisis, such as survivors of natural disasters and refugees.

“We are closely reviewing and addressing the circumstances surrounding this tragic loss and determining next steps as an organization,” a news release from the organization said.

Medical Teams adheres to the humanitarian principle of neutrality, never taking sides in conflicts, according to the news release.

“Yet increasingly, armed actors fail to adhere to International Humanitarian Law, outlined in the Geneva Conventions, which requires them to take steps to ensure protection of humanitarian workers,” the news release said.

Last year, 260 aid workers worldwide were killed, a 120% increase over the previous year, the nonprofit said, adding that this “disturbing” trend has continued into 2024.

Medical Teams began providing medical services in Ethiopia in April 2021, and is currently serving refugees, internally displaced persons, and conflict-affected communities in five regions of the country.

Federal forces in Ethiopia are engaging in fighting with several rebel groups in its regions as well as ethnic-related insurgencies, which have led to deaths and the displacement of people. Rebel groups are based in Amhara.