A group of 13 Canadians working with an Alberta-based charity group have been detained in Ethiopia amid allegations that the group was practising medicine without permission, the organization says.
Ten Canadian volunteers and three Canadian staff members with Canadian Humanitarian were detained, along with two Ethiopian staff members.
“As of right now they are being investigated on the allegations that they were practising medicine without permission and had dispensed expired medication,” board member Justin Steed told CTVNews.ca via email.
Global Affairs Canada said it is aware of the detained Canadians and has been in direct contact with the government of Ethiopia. Canadian officials have also spoken with local authorities “to gather more information,” Global Affairs spokesperson Natasha Nystrom said in a statement.
The group said it followed all necessary steps and protocols to ensure it had the permits needed to provide medical support in the country.
“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,” Steed said.
“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.”
Global Affairs said consular officials are providing assistance to the Canadian citizens and their families.
According to its website, the Medicine Hat, Alta.-based organization obtained its licence as a charitable NGO in Ethiopia in 2012.