The Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Tedros Ahdanom Ghebereyesus said on Wednesday that the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia’s Tigray region is getting worse, compounded by airstrikes and attacks from the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments.
“The situation in Tigray, Ethiopia, has actually worsened. For the more than six million people in Tigray, no access to food, no access to medicine, and on top of that there is no access to basic services,” Dr. Ghebreyesus said at a press briefing in Geneva, Switzerland.
He asserted that people who have money in the bank cannot access it because all the six million people in Tigray are while virtually everyone else has no access to communication to interact with family members or friends.
“I said this many times, this is the worst humanitarian crisis we are seeing now, and this is done systematically by the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments,” he said.
Dr. Ghebreyesus said the humanitarian blockade, which has been in place for 23 months, has been deliberately put in place to punish the people in Tigray.
He called on both the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments to “end the siege” and “give peace a chance.”
He said bombings by both governments are making things even worse, and that lack of access to medicine make even minor injuries deadly.
He said whatever the conflict, punishing civilians is against international law and a crime.
He compared the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region with Russia’s war on Ukraine, asserting that Russia, Ethiopia and Eritrea can end both wars and work towards peace.
The conflict in northern Ethiopia, which has been going on for almost two years between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the federal government has claimed thousands of lives and displaced millions of people.
It has also contributed to the destabilization of the region, which is also facing a myriad of other crises, including several droughts caused by lack of rains. Efforts by the African Union, the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and other regional and global players have not brought about peace and stability in Africa’s second most populous nation.
And while attacks and counterattacks have continued, repeatedly speculated peace talks have not taken place.
On Monday, the United States government announced that Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa (SEHOA) Michael Hammer will travel to Kenya, South Africa, and Ethiopia October 3-18, 2022 as part of ongoing U.S. diplomatic efforts to achieve an immediate cessation of hostilities in northern Ethiopia and support the launch of African Union-led peace talks.
In Nairobi, Special Envoy Hammer will meet with Kenyan government officials, international partners, NGOs, and others involved in regional efforts to build peace and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need.
“Following up on discussions on the situation in Northern Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa held in Washington on September 27 during the U.S.-South Africa Working Group on African and Global Issues, Special Envoy Hammer will travel to Pretoria to meet with South African government officials to advance efforts in support of the African Union-led mediation effort,” the State Department said, adding that in Addis Ababa, Special Envoy Hammer will meet with Ethiopian government and African Union officials, and with UN officials and other partners delivering humanitarian assistance in response to the northern Ethiopia conflict and providing drought relief.
Special Envoy Hammer will stress the importance of accountability on human rights issues in resolving the conflict and achieving national reconciliation, and engage on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in support of efforts under the AU’s auspices to reach an agreement that addresses the interests of all parties and contributes to a more peaceful and prosperous region, added the U.S. government.