The World Health Organization chief, Tedros Adhanom Gebhreyesus has preferred the skin color of the population in Ethiopia’s Tigray region as the main reason for the general lack of global concern in the region’s humanitarian catastrophe.
He wonders if the reason global leaders have not responded is due to “the color of the skin of the people in Tigray.” In an emotional statement at a press briefing on Wednesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the situation caused by the conflict in his home country is worse than any other humanitarian crisis in the world.
Tedros asserted that the six million people in Tigray essentially cut off from the world have been “under siege” for 21 months. He described the Ukraine conflict as a crisis that has the global community potentially “sleepwalking into a nuclear war” that could be “the mother of all problems,” but argued the disaster in Tigray was far worse.
The World Health Organization’s Chief went on to openly suggest that race is behind the global apathy to the plight of civilians in Ethiopia’s war-shattered Tigray region. Describing it as the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world”, with the six million people unable to access basic services, Tedros questioned in an emotional appeal why the situation is not getting the same attention as the Ukraine conflict.
“Maybe the reason is the colour of the skin of the people,” Tedros, who is from Tigray, told a virtual media briefing on Wednesday. In April this year at a briefing, he questioned whether “black and white lives” in emergencies worldwide are given equal attention.
WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan also hit out at an apparent shortage of concern about the drought and famine unfolding in the Horn of Africa, and the ensuing health crisis.” No one seems to give a damn about what’s happening in the Horn of Africa,” lamented Ryan, speaking at a virtual media briefing on Wednesday.
The WHO called for $123.7 million to tackle the health problems resulting from growing malnutrition in the region, where around 200 million people live and millions are going hungry.
A survey report from the Internal Displacement Centre accounts that as a result of the protracted fighting between Ethiopian and Tigrayan forces, thousands have been left dead and injured while hundreds of thousands are facing severe food insecurity. Children constitute a significant population of the victims of this negated humanitarian disaster.
Last year, the crisis set a world record for displacements in a single year causing over 5.1 million displacements. Despite this alarming statistic, the universe seems too concerned about events in Ukraine to the extent that the plight of Africans in the Tigray region is left unattended.
An analysis on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook also prove that hashtags bearing the continued suffering of the Tigraean population have not garnered any significant traffic. Thus, there is a huge disparity on the level of global concern over the two crises.
The Tigray crisis is one amongst a host of humanitarian crises that take place in Africa yet continue grab minimum to no attention. The continent is turf to a multitude of scourge ranging from famine, disease outbreaks, coups, terrorism and insurgencies which are often left unaddressed in various global fora.
In his closing remarks, the WHO Director General urged both Russia and the Ethiopian governments to place humanity over any perceived political differences.