Ethiopia hits out at WHO chief over Tigray war remarks

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Ethiopia hits out at WHO chief over Tigray war remarks

Nairobi (AFP) – Ethiopia has asked the UN health agency to investigate its leader Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus for ‘harmful misinformation’ and ‘misconduct’, accusing him of supporting rebels in his war-torn home region of Tigray .

Tedros – the most high-profile Tigrayan abroad – this week described conditions in the Ethiopian region as “hell” and said the government was blocking medicine and other life-saving aid from reaching residents.

Addis Ababa said his remarks threatened the integrity of the World Health Organization and called for Tedros to be investigated for “misconduct and breach of professional and legal responsibility”.

“He interfered in the internal affairs of Ethiopia, including Ethiopia’s relations with the state of Eritrea,” the Foreign Ministry said Thursday evening, citing a letter sent to the WHO.

The government has accused Tedros of supporting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), its adversary in the 14-month war in the north of the country, and a listed terror group in Ethiopia.

The fighting has killed thousands and pushed many more to the brink of starvation.

Tedros had “spread harmful misinformation and undermined the reputation, independence and credibility of the WHO, which is evident from his social media posts which openly endorse the terror perpetrated by the TPLF against the people of Ethiopia”, he said. said the Foreign Office.

The Ethiopian Mission to the United Nations also protested his remarks and called on Tedros to recuse himself “from all matters relating to Ethiopia”.

“Partisan, politically and personally motivated staff blinded to their global roles limit the most needed work of UN agencies,” he said on Twitter on Wednesday.

Tedros on Wednesday described restrictions on aid entering rebel-held Tigray – which the UN described as a de facto blockade – as “an insult to our humanity”.

It’s “so appalling and unimaginable in this time, the 21st century, where a government deprives its own people for over a year of food and medicine and everything else to survive,” Tedros told reporters.

“Side of Peace”

On Friday, Addis Ababa blamed the TPLF for the blockade, accusing the rebels of obstructing critical humanitarian corridors to their Tigray stronghold.

The international community should “hold the TPLF accountable for the crime of starving people in Tigray, in whose name it wreaked havoc,” the foreign ministry said.

Ethiopian forces and its allies have been fighting the TPLF since November 2020, when Prime Minister Abiy sent troops to Tigray after accusing the rebels of attacking military camps.

It is not the first time that Tedros, who in 2017 became the first African to head the WHO, has drawn the ire of Ethiopia over his remarks on the war.

At the start of the fighting, Ethiopian army chief Berhanu Jula accused the 56-year-old of helping the TPLF acquire weapons.

The WHO boss dismissed the claims, insisting he was “on the side of peace”.

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