Tigray conflict: WHO chief warns of genocide

Tigray conflict: WHO chief warns of genocide
Credit: Yan Boechat/VOA/Wikimedia Commons

The Chief Executive of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned that time is running out to avoid genocide in his home region of Tigray, northern Ethiopia.

Ethiopia's former health and foreign affairs minister warned of a health crisis in the region. He called on the international community and the media to give the crisis the attention it deserves. The Tigray region is currently caught between a joint offensive by the Ethiopian and Eritrean armies.

"There is no other situation worldwide where six million people are under siege for almost two years," he said in Geneva. He argued that the banking system, fuel, food, electricity and healthcare are being used as weapons of war.

The Addis Ababa government launched a "short and fierce" offensive against the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) in November 2020. Two years later, that war continues and the conflict has torn Africa's second most populous country apart.

According to the World Health Organisation, more than five of the seven million people in Tigray are dependent on humanitarian aid.

South Africa peace talks

The peace talks led by the African Union (AU) to end the two-year conflict in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region are expected to take place in South Africa on October 24.

"We have reconfirmed our commitment to participate," said Redwan Hussein, National Security Advisor to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. However, the rebel authorities in the northern region of Tigray, which has been in armed conflict with the Federal Government since early November 2020, are yet to confirm their participation.

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After a five-month truce that raised hopes of negotiations, the conflict blew up again on 24 August.

The UN, the United States, the EU and the AU have in recent days sounded the alarm over the intensified fighting in Tigray, which is caught in a pincer movement by Ethiopian federal troops and their allies, the army of bordering Eritrea.

On Sunday, the AU Commission chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, called for "an immediate and unconditional ceasefire".

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