Addis Abeba — Legendary athlete Derartu Tullu, President of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation, led a delegation of Tigrayan athletes and members of the Executive Committee and others to Mekelle in order to reconnect Tigrayan athletes with their families.
According to the Federation, the delegation left for Mekelle this morning via Ethiopian Airlines flight.
In July last year, Derartu has pleaded with the government to remove the blockade that disconnected Tigray-born gold medal winning athletes from reaching their parents in the Tigray region. “As we know, the athletes from Tigray haven’t yet had the opportunity to find their families. I assume our honorable president will definitely solve this problem. We think that our government will solve this problem,” Derartu said During the welcoming ceremony held at the grand palace. “Because we have athletes in Tigray to line up wholeheartedly for the next tournaments and so that our happiness can come true.”
Native Tigrayan women athletes Gotytom Gebreslase, Letesenbet Gidey and Gudaf Tsegay were at the forefront of Ethiopia’s athletics team that placed the country second in the medal table only to the host U.S.A at the 18th World Athletics Championship by winning three of the four gold medals; Ethiopian athletic team also fetched four more silver, and two bronze medals.
The welcoming ceremony was clouded with sobering reflections as both the athletes and their parents spoke publicly about the pain of not seeing each other during the two years of blockade that disconnected Tigray from the rest of Ethiopia.
The delegation’s travel is taking place amid confusion due to inexplicable travel restrictions banning young Tigrayans between the ages of 16 and 65 from leaving the Alula Abanega International Airport in Mekelle, the capital of Tigray region. AS