Dentist, aid workers detained in Ethiopian prison freed

2020 03 04 22 59 3409 Ethiopia Flag 400

More than a dozen volunteers and staff members of a nonpolitical dental and medical support organization who have been detained in an Ethiopian prison since February were released on March 4.

Canadian Humanitarian confirmed in a news update on March 3 that bail had been posted for the organization's three Canadian staff, two Ethiopian staff, and 10 volunteers, including a dentist from Alberta, who have been held in a prison in Gondar since February 29.

Jared Ord, DDS, of Olds Dental Health Clinic, is one of the detainees, according to news reports.

The organization confirmed that all documentation was being processed, and the prisoners were released on March 4. A representative from the organization and consular officials had brief access to the prison and confirmed that all detainees were being treated humanely.

"At that point they will be free to move within the country, but it is uncertain when Ethiopian authorities will allow their return to Canada," the organization noted.

The volunteers and staff were accused of practicing medicine without permission and that they dispensed expired medication. Canadian Humanitarian contends that it and the aid workers followed required steps and protocols to ensure they obtained necessary permits to legally and properly provide care in Ethiopia.

"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 organization stated.

Ethiopian authorities have suggested that the aid workers would need to stay in the East African country until its investigation is complete. The organization will continue to focus on getting its staff and volunteers home as soon as possible.

"We are vigorously defending the actions and decisions of our team knowing that every decision was made by highly trained and certified Canadian medical professionals and that their mission on this trip was to provide essential medical care to the citizens of Ethiopia who need it most," the organization stated.

Since 2003, Canadian Humanitarian has sent hundreds of volunteers to Ethiopia to provide medical and dental support to its children. Its efforts are supported by Ethiopian partners and Global Affairs Canada.

"In collaboration with Global Affairs Canada and the Canadian Embassy in Ethiopia, we are working hard to resolve this as quickly as possible, ensure the fair and humanitarian treatment of our team in accordance with internationally recognized laws, and expediate their safe return to Canada," organization stated.

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