The head of the World Health Organization has criticised the global community for its focus on the war in Ukraine, arguing that crises elsewhere, including in his home country of Ethiopia, are not being given equal consideration, possibly because those suffering are not white.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus questioned whether the world really gives equal attention to Black and White lives, given that the ongoing crises in Ethiopia, Yemen, Afghanistan and Syria have garnered only a fraction of the global concern for Ukraine. He spoke in a virtual press conference from Geneva on Wednesday.
Last month, Tedros said there was nowhere on earth where the health of millions of people is more under threat than in Ethiopia's Tigray region.
Since a truce was declared in Tigray three weeks ago, about 2,000 trucks should have been able to bring food, medicine and other essentials to the conflict-ridden area, he said. Tedros, who was a former minister of health in Ethiopia and an ethnic Tigrayan, said only about 20 trucks had arrived.
He said that people are dying of starvation as we speak. This is one of the longest and worst sieges of both Ethiopian and Eritrean forces in modern history. Tedros acknowledged that the war in Ukraine is significant, but asked if other crises are being given enough attention.
He said that he needs to be blunt and honest that the world is not treating the human race the same way. Some are more equal than others. Tedros described the situation in Tigray as tragic and said he hopes the world comes back to its senses and treats all human life equally. He criticised the press for its failure to document the ongoing atrocities in Ethiopia, noting that people had been burned alive in the region. I don't know if that was taken seriously by the media. The government of Ethiopia sent a letter to the World Health Organization this year accusing Tedros of misconduct after his sharp criticism of the war and humanitarian crisis in the country.
The Ethiopian government said Tedros was using his office to advance his political interest at the expense of Ethiopia and said he is an active member of the Tigray People's Liberation Front, Tedros was Ethiopia's foreign minister and health minister when the TPLF dominated the country's ruling coalition.