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WHO chief says 'color of skin' behind lack of help for Tigray

August 18, 2022
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a press conference on December 20, 2021 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva.
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a press conference on December 20, 2021 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva.

GENEVA — Racism is behind a lack of international attention being paid to the plight of civilians in Ethiopia's war-shattered Tigray region, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has suggested.

Calling it the "worst humanitarian crisis in the world", with 6 million people unable to access basic services, Tedros questioned in an emotional appeal why the situation is not getting the same attention as the Ukraine conflict.

"Maybe the reason is the color of the skin of the people," Tedros, who is from Tigray, told a virtual media briefing on Wednesday. In April this year at a briefing, he questioned whether "black and white lives" in emergencies worldwide are given equal attention.

Fighting between Ethiopian and Tigrayan forces have left thousands dead and hundreds of thousands facing severe food insecurity, according to Internal Displacement Monitoring Center.

Last year, the crisis set a world record for displacements in a single year causing over 5.1 million displacements.

WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan also hit out at an apparent shortage of concern about the drought and famine unfolding in the Horn of Africa, and the ensuing health crisis.

"No one seems to give a damn about what's happening in the Horn of Africa," said Ryan, speaking at a virtual media briefing on Wednesday.

The WHO called for $123.7 million to tackle the health problems resulting from growing malnutrition in the region, where around 200 million people live and millions are going hungry. — Agencies


August 18, 2022
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