May 28, 2024

WHO chief Tedros praises ‘progress’ in Ethiopia’s Tigray region but warns Eritrean forces ‘continue to massacre civilians’ and must withdraw

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during the opening of the 151st session of the Executive Board on 30 May 2022. This second shorter meeting of the year is a follow-up to the World Health Assembly. The Executive Board is composed of 34 technically qualified members elected for three-year terms. The main functions of the Board are to implement the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly, and advise and generally to facilitate its work.

The Director General of the World Health Organization Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday acknowledged progress in Ethiopia’s Tigray region but warned that Eritrean forces continue to ‘massacre’ civilians and must withdraw from Tigray.

Speaking at the WHO news briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, Dr. Ghebereysus said that since the peace agreement between the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali and Tigrayan authorities was reached in South Africa last November, there has been progress on food and medicine deliveries and the resumption of basic services such as banking and telecommunication.

“On Tigray, of course after the peace agreement, the signing, there is progress now. In food delivery, there is progress, in medicine, there is progress,” he said, noting that there are still many areas that are not yet covered.

The WHO boss, however, warned that Eritrean forces continue to put the fragile peace at risk by killing civilians and must withdraw from Tigray.

“I think the only problem now… is the continued occupation of Tigray by Eritrean army, and as we speak they are massacring civilians, they continue to massacre civilians,” Dr. Ghebreyesus said. “We believe that could affect the peace agreement. And I think the international community should help in making sure that Eritrea respects the peace deal and withdraw from Tigray and stop the massacre.”

Last week, the United States government applauded another important step towards peace in northern Ethiopia, adding that it is ready to help.

The latest step was the signing and launch of the African Union’s Monitoring, Verification and Compliance Mission (AU-MVCM) in Mekele, Tigray.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken described the move as an “important step toward securing lasting peace for the people of northern Ethiopia.”

“The United States stands ready to support the AU-MVCM and full implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement (COHA), which includes disarmament of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) combatants, withdrawal of Eritrean forces, unimpeded humanitarian access, resumption of essential services, and implementation of transitional justice,” Blinken wrote in a statement.

He added, “We call on the parties to ensure the protection of civilians as mandated in the COHA and believe the AU-MVCM should play an important role in monitoring and verifying respect for human rights throughout the former conflict areas. 

“We commend the AU and its High-Level Panel for facilitating agreement on the AU-MVCM.  We look forward to working with AU panel members and the parties to expedite full implementation of the COHA that leads to lasting peace for the benefit of all Ethiopians. 

“The United States will also continue to support the AU’s mandate to prevent, manage, and resolve conflicts and promote peace, security, and stability on the continent.”

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