Middle East/North Africa

WHO head spotlights ‘catastrophic’ humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray region

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The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) cast a spotlight on the “catastrophic” humanitarian situation in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, even as the world’s attention is on the war and refugee crisis in Ukraine. 

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged member counties and humanitarian groups to not forget the other humanitarian crises happening around the world. 

Tedros, who is Ethiopian, noted that due to the ongoing conflict in the country, nearly 6 million Tigray people have been blocked from accessing cash, fuel and communications, adding that no food has been delivered to the region since last December. 

“The situation is catastrophic,” Tedros said at the news conference. 

“83 percent of the population is food insecure. Our partners are running out of what little food they have, and the fuel to transport it,” he added. “About three-quarters of health facilities assessed by WHO have been damaged or destroyed.”

Tedros said that the health agency airlifted 33 tons of medicines and health supplies to the region in February, the first such shipment since July last year. 

“Yes, I am from Tigray, and this crisis affects me, my family and my friends very personally,” he added. “But as the director-general of WHO, I have a duty to protect and promote health wherever it is under threat, and there is nowhere on earth where the health of millions of people is more under threat than in Tigray.”

Tedros’s remarks come amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has caused well over 2 million Ukrainians to flee the country, as many in the country struggle to access basic amenities as Russian forces bombard some cities. 

Tags Eritrean–Ethiopian War Ethiopia health crisis Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus WHO World Health Organization

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