In a recent press conference, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus provided an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, and the civil war in Ethiopia, and he did not mince his words when it comes to the double standards of the international community, in particular with regards to the situation in Ethiopia.
For almost 18 months, Ethiopia has been in the midst of a civil war in the Tigray region of the African country. The conflict has put over 5.2 million people at risk of starvation, and the killing of civilians, the rape of women and children, and the attack on refugees have become a regular occurrence.
Three weeks ago a truce was brokered and the WHO expected to deliver food and medicine, to starving people in about 2,000 trucks. So far only 20 trucks have been able to reach the affected population. Given the global disinterest in this vast humanitarian crisis, Tedros says that he doesn’t know if the world gives equal attention to Black and white lives.
“The whole attention to Ukraine is very important, of course, because it impacts the whole world but even a fraction of it is not being given to Tigray, Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, and the rest, a fraction. And I need to be blunt and honest, that the world is not treating the human race the same way. Some are more equal than others,” Dr Tedros said in the press conference.
“I hope the world comes back to its senses and treats all human life equality,” Tedros continued. “So, we need to balance, we need to take every life seriously because every life is precious.”
Tedros also called out the media for not taking the atrocities seriously. Tedros himself is from the Tigray region of Ethiopia and was the country’s former Minister of Health and Minister for Foreign Affairs during the rule of the Tigray People's Liberation Front – the former ruling party of Ethiopia.
In January, the Prosperity Party – the current leading coalition in Ethiopia – accused Tedros of misconduct by discussing the Tigray war and claimed he was using his office “to advance his political interest at the expense of Ethiopia.” Tedros rejected the claims of having such bias.
The WHO press conference also highlighted that the combined effects of the Climate Crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and conflicts across the world are putting more and more people at risk of famine and illnesses.