Mekelle University in consultation with the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, and UN offices in Mekelle and Addis Ababa proceeded with logistic preparations and the actual effort to transport 4,896 students via Abe’ala (Afar Region) on Sunday July 18,2021. The preparations to move such a huge number of students, and to execute the plan were made in the absence of banking services, telephone or any other means of communication, and when there is critical shortage of fuel in the city of Mekelle.

As per the plan, on the morning of Sunday July 18,2021, 10 buses with students managed to reach Abe’ala. Up on arrival on the borders, representatives of UN who escorted the buses received an order to return from the Afar Region Special Forces. When a telephone call was made to reach the delegate of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education who was expected to be at the site to receive the students, the response was “I am now at Samara city.” The delegate confirmed buses that were supposed to be readily on standby at Abe’ala, by the ministry, for transferring the students to Addis Ababa are not available. The UN observers decided the buses return to Mekelle and the entire plan be cancelled.

Currently, our university is in such a situation that its bank accounts are blocked, our budget for June 2021 has not been transferred from the federal government, and the budget for the fiscal year [July 2021,22] is not yet released. Moreover, with more than 10,000 undergraduate students in campuses, no purchase of food supplies can be made due to the absence of bank services, and we have run out of the food stock. This has created a tense situation. The food support from Adigrat University and Raya University will not last beyond July 27,2021. As a result of the blockage of the institutional bank account and failure of the budget transfer, we are unable to pay salary of our 7,500 employees after the month of June. In general, the telecom services shutdown, internet disconnection, power cuts and blocking of fuel transport in Tigray has highly affected the activities of our institution.

With the existing challenges, neither can our institution keep the students in such a situation; nor can it transport those who came from out of Tigray. Hence, we have requested the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (Via a letter Ref. No. MU PO1 1079/13) to create possibilities for institutional access to money, or to send buses to Mekelle to transport the students out of Tigray. In the letter, we have clearly stated that our university will facilitate the required guarantee for safety of bus drivers and their vehicles from the Tigray Regional Government, and for UN observers to escort the convoy.

We have clearly stated on the letters to the Ministry of Science and Higher Education and the Ministry of Finance, if they do not manage to transport the students urgently, or if they fail to transfer money to our university by July 27, 2021, our institution will not be able to take responsibility for the students.

Source Tigray Media House, TMH