Blockade creates ‘hell’ in Ethiopia’s Tigray, says WHO

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Blockade creates ‘hell’ in Ethiopia’s Tigray, says WHO

A blockade preventing medicines and other vital supplies from reaching Ethiopia’s Tigray has created ‘hell’ in the war-torn region and is ‘an insult to our humanity’, the head of the World Health Organization has said. health, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Nowhere in the world do we see hell like in Tigray,” Ghebreyesus – himself from the northern region of Ethiopia – said on Wednesday. more than a year of food and medicine and the rest to survive,” he told reporters.

Fighting between forces loyal to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and their allies has killed thousands and forced several million to flee since their eruption in November 2020.

Tigray is under what the United Nations calls a de facto blockade that prevents millions of people, including hundreds of thousands in near-starvation conditions, from receiving lifesaving medicine and food.

Tedros said the situation was “desperate”.

“I come from this region,” he said, adding, however, that “I say this without bias. The situation is serious… Imagine a complete blockade of seven million people for more than a year. And there is no food. There is no medicine, no medicine. No electricity. No telecom. No media,” he said.

He also pointed out that there are now almost daily deadly drone raids on the warring region.

He added that while the WHO had been allowed to send drugs and medicines to other parts of Ethiopia, it had not been allowed to send any to Tigray since last July.

Doctors in the region were forced to use expired drugs – and even these were running out, he said.

“Humanitarian access must be allowed at all times, even during conflict. Conflict cannot be an excuse,” he insisted, pointing out that even at the height of the devastating conflicts in Syria and Yemen, the UN health agency had always been able to send medical supplies. help to those in need.

WHO emergencies chief Michael Ryan also denounced the dire situation, saying it had left many people “without access to the most basic life-saving interventions”.

Basic insulin and other diabetes treatments had not been allowed in Tigray since the middle of last year, he said, warning that it had left medical workers unable to “manage the most serious complications” of the disease, with “catastrophic and imminent health consequences”. .

“From my point of view, it is an insult to our humanity to allow a situation like this to continue, to not allow any access,” he told reporters.

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