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Situation in Ethiopia’s Tigray ‘HORRIFIC’: WHO Chief Tedros | ዶ/ር ቴድሮስ፤“የትግራይ ሁኔታ ‘በጣም አሰቃቂ ነው’”

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on May 17, 2021

👉 የዓለም ጤና ድርጅት ዋና ኃላፊ ዶክተር ቴድሮስ አድሃኖም ቴድሮስ፤ “ የትግራይ ሁኔታ በጣም አሰቃቂ ነው‘”

Ethiopia’s conflict-hit Tigray region is facing a horrifying situation with people dying of hunger, health services destroyed and rape “rampant”, the WHO chief, himself from the region, said Monday.

“The situation in Tigray, Ethiopia, is, if I use one word, horrific. Very horrific,” World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into Tigray in November after accusing the once-dominant regional ruling party of orchestrating attacks on federal army camps.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Abiy declared victory later that month when the army entered the regional capital Mekele.

But fighting continues and the six-month conflict has sparked allegations of massacres and rape by Ethiopian forces and troops from neighbouring Eritrea.

Tedros pointed out that some five million people in the region are now in need of humanitarian aid, and especially food aid.

“Many people have started dying actually because of hunger, and severe and acute malnutrition is becoming rampant,” he said.

In addition, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced from their homes with over 60,000 fleeing into Sudan.

At the same time, health services have been looted and destroyed, he said, adding that “the majority of them are not functioning”.

– Aid access key –

The WHO chief also condemned indiscriminate killings and the widespread use of sexual violence in the conflict.

“Rape is rampant. I don’t think there was that scale anywhere else in the world actually,” he said.

Asked about the Covid-19 situation in his home region, Tedros said there were no services to rein in the disease, but said it is not a priority given the other crises.

“For the most part, we’re not even in a position to discuss about Covid, to be honest, because there are more pressing issues.”

One of the most urgent problems to address is getting full access for humanitarian workers and for aid.

World leaders and aid agencies have repeatedly called for full humanitarian access to the crisis-wracked areas as fears grow of impending disaster.

On Friday, the European Union condemned the ongoing blocking of aid to the region, denouncing “the use of humanitarian aid as a weapon of war”.

WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan warned Monday that “access to victims in Tigray remains highly unpredictable”.

This, he said, was creating “a huge barrier to access to the populations that need our help”.

With most health facilities destroyed, the UN health agency was concerned about rising risks of cholera, measles and other outbreaks, he said.

“We have also issues of continuing to get (cholera) vaccines in,” he pointed out, stressing the need to “get those doses in there” and to plan immunisation campaigns “to avert a cholera disaster”.

Source

The Anguish of the World’s Doctor

Dr. Tedros of the W.H.O. publicly focuses on managing the pandemic. Privately, he weeps as his Tigrayan people are raped, starved and slaughtered.

By Nicholas Kristof – Opinion Columnist

He is the world’s doctor, and for months he has tirelessly led the global response to the coronavirus pandemic while privately nursing a piercing anguish.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, has largely kept his pain secret, maintaining a stoic public front. But when I probed, he wept.

Dr. Tedros is from Tigray, a part of Ethiopia that since November has endured crimes against humanity by Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has properly described atrocities in western Tigrayas ethnic cleansing, but the world has largely been indifferent.

Tigrayan children are starving to death, men have been clubbed to death, and women and girls have been subjected to mass rape. Ethiopian opposition parties claim that more than 50,000 people have been killed — that is not verifiable, and the toll is unknown — and the scale of torture, starvation, murder and destruction in the past few months may have been the worst in the world.

“Hunger is weaponized, rape is weaponized, there is indiscriminate killing,” Dr. Tedros said. “The whole region is hungry.”

“It’s so painful,” he added. “I don’t have words.”

His cousin, a 68-year-old woman, was killed while trying to shelter in a church, he said. Another relative, a 16-year-old high school student, was shot in the street. Internet and telephone links have been cut off, so Dr. Tedros can’t reach family members in Tigrayto get more information about who has been tortured or murdered.

My Times colleague Declan Walsh has reported on atrocities such as a 26-year-old man being beaten to death with beer bottles and girls as young as 8 being sexually assaulted. The United Nations humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock, described a woman whose husband was killed, who lost her unborn baby and who then was gang-raped in front of her children.

Even though Dr. Tedros is one of the world’s most recognized public servants, he may have become a refugee. He is now based at W.H.O. headquarters in Geneva, but he would probably not be safe if he tried to return to Tigray. Ethiopia’s military chief has denounced him as a criminal.

I’ve known and admired Dr. Tedros for 15 years, but we have periodically tangled over his deference to dictators. I asked Dr. Tedros about that, but he didn’t want to discuss politics of any kind — including whether countries should pressure Ethiopia to stop the slaughter of Tigrayans. He seems deeply conflicted, torn between what he sees as a professional duty to his organization to be impartial, and the horror of an ethnic cleansing of his own people.

Presiding over these crimes against humanity in Tigrayis Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia, who came to power in 2018 and was initially hailed as a great reformer; he even won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019. Abiy is a pro-Western figure over whom the United States has considerable influence — if we will only use it.

The Tigraycrisis is rooted in ethnic tensions and a power struggle. For almost three decades, people from Tigraydominated Ethiopia’s central government; Dr. Tedros became Ethiopia’s highly regarded health minister in that period, then foreign minister. This Tigrayan-led government ruled effectively, greatly raising living standards, but it was also repressive, torturing critics, imprisoning journalists and stirring deep resentments among other Ethiopians.

After taking power, Prime Minister Abiy reined in Tigrayans and dispatched troops in November to crush what he said was a mutiny in the region. That triggered a civil war with Tigrayfighters, and Eritrea’s army entered to back up Ethiopia’s forces. There is also a risk of a wider war involving Sudan.

All sides in the conflict have committed atrocities, but by far the most serious and credible allegations are against the Ethiopian and Eritrean armies and their allies.

As W.H.O. chief, Dr. Tedros has tried to get vaccines distributed more equitably around the world, while dealing with President Donald Trump’s appalling decision to pull the United States out of the W.H.O. (overturned by President Biden on his first day in office). In public, Dr. Tedros is focused on Covid-19 and has mostly kept quiet about atrocities in Tigray.

“The public sees Tedros devoting every day to managing the pandemic, but privately he is also managing his pain about Tigray,” said Dr. Annie Sparrow, an assistant professor at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine who was an adviser to Dr. Tedros.

Dr. Tedros was reluctant to give this interview, but when he did his torment was unmistakable. “We have Covid and are doing our best. On top of that, to have this pain,” he began, and then the stoic broke down. For more than a minute, he couldn’t speak and sobbed.

I respect a man who loses it when contemplating war crimes. I wish more would. And I hope President Biden and other world leaders will hear that agony, on behalf of so many in Tigraywho are being starved, raped and murdered, and will use their influence to end this catastrophe.

Source

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