‘Racism behind lack of international attention to plight of Tigray region’

The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has described the “man-made catastrophe” in Ethiopia’s Tigray region as the “worst disaster on Earth” and questioned whether global leaders have not responded due to “the colour of the skin of the people in Tigray”.

WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said “unimaginable cruelty” was being inflicted on six million people in the northern region, effectively cut off from basic services for nearly two years.

Calling it the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world”, Dr Ghebreyesus questioned in an emotional appeal why the situation was not getting the same attention as the Ukraine conflict. Dr Ghebreyesus, who is himself from Tigray, suggested racism may be why the situation ranked behind Ukraine in terms of international attention.

“Maybe the reason is the colour of the skin of the people,” Dr Ghebreyesus told a virtual media briefing. In April this year at a briefing, he questioned whether “black and white lives” in emergencies worldwide are given equal attention.

In November 2020, Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, ordered troops into the region to topple the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, accusing rebels of attacking federal army camps.

Since the war broke out, Ethiopia’s northernmost region has suffered food shortages and access to basic services such as electricity, communications and banking has been severely limited.

“As a result, the people of Tigray are facing multiple outbreaks of malaria, anthrax, cholera, diarrhoea and more,” Dr Ghebreyesus told a WHO press conference in Geneva. “This unimaginable cruelty must end. The only solution is peace.”

Fighting has eased in northern Ethiopia since a humanitarian truce was declared at the end of March, allowing the resumption of desperately needed international aid convoys to Tigray.

In recent weeks, both sides have mooted the possibility of peace talks.

But Dr Ghebreyesus said only a trickle of food and medicines had made it into the region, and said basic services must be resumed in order to build confidence in the peace negotiations.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, says his government has formed a committee to negotiate with the northern Tigray region’s forces. -Aljazeera

Show More
Back to top button