Renewed hostilities between government, Tigray rebels resumed Wednesday jeopardizing prospects for peace talks
The UN health agency chief said people in his embattled hometown of Tigray in Ethiopia have been cut off from the outside world, with no communication, electricity, or financial services.
“I will tell you my own story. I have many relatives there. I want to send them money but I cannot,” Tedros Ghebreyesus told a media briefing in Geneva.
Ghebreyesus said he knows his relatives are starving but he cannot help them because they are completely sealed off.
He said due to the communication cut-off, it has been a long time since he last spoke to them.
“I don’t know even who is dead or who is alive,” he said.
Ghebreyesus, an ethnic Tigrayan and former minister in Ethiopia, has been vocal about the situation in his native region.
In a press briefing last week, Ghebreyesus, said the situation caused by the conflict in Tigray was worse than any other humanitarian crisis in the world.
“I haven’t heard in the last few months any head of state talking about the Tigray situation anywhere in the developed world. Why?” Tedros asked. “Maybe the reason is the color of the skin of the people in Tigray.”
The Ethiopian government has not taken his criticism lightly. Last Thursday, Addis Ababa described his comments as “unethical.”
“The comment is one among many unethical ones being made by the WHO director general and is not surprising,” said Billene Seyoum, press secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office.
“Using a race card and one’s multilateral position to garner the sympathy of the global north for personal, partisan politics is quite unbecoming of such a high profile position,” she said, requesting the UN to take action.
Renewed hostilities between the government and Tigray rebels resumed this week Wednesday jeopardizing prospects for peace talks.
On Friday, local reports claimed an airstrike allegedly hit buildings in the capital of the rebel-held Tigray region in northern Ethiopia.
Collapsed buildings and medical personnel attending to injured people in the city of Mekele were shown in a report by Tigray TV, the broadcaster of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which has been engaged in armed conflict with the Ethiopian government since November 2020.
The government has so far neither confirmed nor denied the strike, which came a day after both sides declared that a five-month cease-fire had been broken.