Canadian charity says 15 of its volunteers are detained in Ethiopia

Feb 29 2020, 4:18 pm

A Canadian charity based in Alberta says 15 of its staff members and volunteers have been detained in Ethiopia.

Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Natasha Nystrom confirmed the government is aware that Canadian citizens are detained in Ethiopia.

“We have raised this case directly with the government of Ethiopia and officials are in contact with local authorities to gather further information,” she said.

According to a post on Canadian Humanitarian’s website, 10 Canadian volunteers, three Canadian staff members, and two Ethiopian staff members have been taken into custody by Ethiopian authorities.

They’re apparently being investigated for practicing medicine without permission and dispensing expired drugs, according to the charity.

“While we cannot comment on the specifics of the expiry of the medication, we can with confidence say that all medicine and care offered by our team was safe,” the charity’s statement reads.

“Our medical groups are comprised of numerous doctors and medical professionals. The care they provide in Ethiopia is the same care they would provide here in Canada.”

The organization added it’s “vigorously defending” its team that was providing “essential medical care to the citizens of Ethiopia who need it most.”

The charity also says its volunteers and staff had all the necessary permits to provide medical support in the country.

Canadian Humanitarian is based on Medicine Hat, Alberta, and says it’s been organizing trips to provide medical, dental, and social-emotional support in Ethiopia for the past 15 years.