The head of the World Health Organization has slammed the global community for giving its undivided attention to the conflict in Ukraine, while ignoring humanitarian crises affecting non-white people elsewhere.
Speaking at a virtual press briefing from Geneva on Wednesday, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the emergencies unfolding in other parts of the world are not being taken as seriously, and hoped the international community will “come back to its senses.”
He questioned whether “the world really gives equal attention to Black and white lives” and “even a fraction of it is not being given to Tigray, Yemen, Afghanistan and Syria and the rest.”
Tedros acknowledged the war in Ukraine is globally significant because it impacts the whole world, but asked if other crises are being accorded enough attention.
“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. And when I say this, it pains me. Because I see it. Very difficult to accept –but it’s happening,” WHO director said.
Last month, Ghebreyesus said there is “nowhere on earth where the health of millions of people is more under threat” than Ethiopia’s Tigray region. “As we speak, people are dying of starvation,” said Tedros, a former health minister in Ethiopia and an ethnic Tigrayan.
He also criticized the media’s failure to document atrocities in Ethiopia, noting that people had been burned alive there. “I don’t even know if that was taken seriously by the media,” he said. “So we need to balance. We need to take every life seriously because every life is precious.”
Tedros said since a truce was declared in the besieged northern region of Ethiopia three weeks ago, only about 20 trucks have arrived to deliver food, medicine and other essentials to those in need, adding that about 2,000 trucks should have been able to enter.
World’s worst humanitarian crisis
A year of conflict in Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country and a linchpin of regional security, has left thousands dead, forced more than two million people from their homes and pushed parts of the country into famine-like conditions.
The UN says hundreds of thousands of people are at risk of starvation in Tigray, where people have for months also faced fuel shortages and a lack of basic services such as electricity, telecommunications, internet and banking.
The UN has called Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. According to the UN Office for Humanitarian Coordination (OCHA) more than 23 million, out of 31.9 million people in Yemen, face hunger, disease, and other life-threatening risks as the country’s basic services and economy are collapsing.
Saudi Arabia launched the devastating war against Yemen in March 2015 in collaboration with a number of its allies, chief among them the UAE, and with arms and logistics support from the US and several Western states. Last month, during a global pledging conference, the UN chief warned that millions of people in Yemen are at risk of catastrophe.
The UN is also seeking its biggest-ever single-country appeal for funds for Afghanistan, which is on the brink of economic collapse, with more than 24 million people needing humanitarian assistance to survive.
Nearly eight months after the Taliban’s sweeping takeover of Kabul and botched exit of the US-led allied forces, Afghanistan’s economic prospects remain grim, with almost 97 percent of Afghans facing the prospect of living below the poverty line.
Source: Agencies (edited by Al-Manar English Website)