The head of the World Health Organization has slammed 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 “if the world really gives equal attention to Black and white lives,” given that the ongoing emergencies in Ethiopia, Yemen, Afghanistan and Syria have garnered only a “fraction” of the global concern for Ukraine. He was speaking in a virtual press briefing from Geneva on Wednesday.
Last month, Tedros said there is ”nowhere on earth where the health of millions of people is more under threat” than 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, medicines and other essentials to the conflict-ridden area, he said. Instead, only about 20 trucks have arrived, said Tedros, a former minister of health in Ethiopia and an ethnic Tigrayan.
“As we speak, people are dying of starvation,” he said. “This is one of the longest and worst sieges by both Eritrean and Ethiopian forces in modern history.”
Tedros acknowledged that the war in Ukraine is globally significant, but asked if other crises are being accorded enough attention.