- Lifestyle & Sports
- 14 Apr 22
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has questioned the global attention given to the Ukraine crisis in comparison to the ongoing emergencies in Ethiopia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Palestine and Syria.
The Director-General of the World Health Organisation has criticised the global community for its focus on the war in Ukraine, stating that crises elsewhere, including in his home country of Ethiopia, are neglecting to receive the same level of attention for reasons of racial bias.
Speaking at a virtual press briefing from Geneva yesterday, WHO leader Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus questioned “if the world really gives equal attention to Black and white lives,” given that the emergencies in Ethiopia, Yemen, Palestine, Afghanistan and Syria have garnered only a “fraction” of the global outpouring of support for Ukraine.
In March, Tedros said there is ”nowhere on earth where the health of millions of people is more under threat” than Ethiopia’s Tigray region.
A truce was declared in Tigray three weeks ago, meaning that 2,000 trucks should have been able to bring food, medicines and other essentials to the conflict-ridden location, he explain. However, only about 20 trucks have arrived, Tedros said. The WHO chief is a former minister of health in Ethiopia and an ethnic Tigrayan.
“As we speak, people are dying of starvation,” he said. “This is one of the longest and worst sieges by both Eritrean and Ethiopian forces in modern history.”
The world is treating humanitarian crises affecting Black and white lives unequally, according to the head of the World Health Organization.
Only a “fraction” of the attention on Ukraine is being given elsewhere, says Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/ExkGXgob4l
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) April 14, 2022
Tedros conceded that the war in Ukraine is of huge global importance, but asked if other crises are being granted enough attention.
“I need to be blunt and honest that the world is not treating the human race the same way,” he said. “Some are more equal than others.”
Tedros described the situation in Tigray as “tragic” and said he “hopes the world comes back to its senses and treats all human life equally.”
The Ethiopian leader also critiqued journalists for their failure to report the ongoing atrocities in Ethiopia, noting that people had been burned alive in the region. “I don’t even know if that was taken seriously by the media.”
The government of Ethiopia recently accused Tedros of “misconduct” in a letter to the WHO after his criticism of the war and humanitarian crisis in the country.
The Ethiopian government said Tedros was using his office “to advance his political interest at the expense of Ethiopia” and said he continues to be an active member of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.
Journalists and social media platforms have only worked to compare the conflict in Ukraine against others by stating that the country is "European", and even "civilised".
CBS News’ Charlie d’Agata contrasted “civilised” Ukrainian refugees with those coming from “places, with all due respect, like Iraq and Afghanistan.” An estimated 400,000 to 700,000 “excess deaths,” occurred in Iraq to civilians, according to studies, but most argue it exceeds one million people.
In Yemen, approximately 377,000 have died as a direct result of the Saudi bombardment and thanks to the wider humanitarian consequences of its economic siege of the country. The appalling Yemen crisis and proxy war is defined by the United Nations as the greatest humanitarian calamity of the 21st century.
Ukraine will make matters worse by driving up food prices, as the UN World Food programme warned on Thursday. WFP executive director David Beasley said in the statement: "We have no choice but to take food from the hungry to feed the starving and, unless we receive immediate funding, in a few weeks we risk not even being able to feed the starving."
The same goes for Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmar and Palestine.
Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Anglo Arab Understanding, told the Middle East Eye, "Palestinians notice in the case of Russia the world has rushed to impose sanctions, kick them out of cultural events and to divest in the face of occupation. But when Palestinians call for boycott and divestment in the face of the Israeli occupation they are labelled antisemitic to the extent that the British government is trying to criminalise it."
Finally, as Yusaf H. Akbar argued in Politico:
"Seeing this war as unique because of Ukraine’s geographic location does not fully stand up to scrutiny either. Even in Europe, we have recently witnessed large, bloody wars that killed thousands: In 1999, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rise to the presidency was paved by a brutal invasion of Chechnya, involving about 80,000 Russian troops and costing more than 50,000 lives. And let us also remember the three-year Serbian siege of Srebrenica in which more than 9,000 Bosniaks perished. Neither led to talk of a fundamental reorientation of European security."
- Lifestyle & Sports
- 15 Mar 22