The Spanish aid worker María Hernández, in an image taken in Mexico in 2019.MSF HANDOUT / EFE

The body of María Hernández, the 35-year-old Spanish aid worker murdered last week in the Ethiopian region of Tigray, is already in Addis Ababa, the country’s capital, according to sources from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Hernández, a 35-year-old from Madrid and the emergency coordinator of Doctors without Borders (MSF), was murdered along with two other NGO workers, the Ethiopian Yohannes Halefom Reda, a 31-year-old coordinating assistant, and Tedros Gebremariam Gebremichael, also 31 years, driver.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reported that last Thursday it lost contact with the vehicle in which the three aid workers were traveling and on Friday morning it was found empty with the lifeless bodies of its three occupants a few meters away.

The Ethiopian Government has blamed the rebels of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and recalled its recommendation that the area be traveled with an armed escort. The first data available to the Spanish Government – the Spanish Minister of Affairs Foreign Affairs, Arancha González Laya, spoke on Friday with his Ethiopian counterpart – they also point to the independence insurgency, although the regular army and irregular militias at the service of Addis Ababa also operate in this northern region of the country, including troops from neighboring Eritrea. The EU has called for the withdrawal of foreign forces and the US State Department has raised doubts about the perpetrator of the crime by demanding an “independent investigation” and underlining that the safety of aid workers is the responsibility of the Ethiopian Government.

The most complex part, the transfer of María Hernández’s body from the place where she was murdered to Mekelle, the capital of Tigray, and then to Addis Ababa, has been carried out in less time than expected. Now we have to complete the bureaucratic procedures to complete the repatriation. Foreign sources assure that “the steps are being accelerated” so that “it can be done as soon as possible”, although they dare to venture a date for their arrival in Spain.

The same sources stressed that “at the express wish of the cooperant’s family, the arrival and subsequent funerals will be held in privacy.” María Hernández began working at Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in the Central African Republic in 2015. Since then, she has been stationed on missions in Yemen, Mexico and Nigeria.

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