Nairobi, Kenya (AP) – Ethiopia’s army chief has accused the head of the World Health Organization, a fellow Ethiopian, of providing arms and other aid to neighboring Tigre region, which the central government has been fighting for two weeks. . He did not cite any evidence.
General Birhanu Jula told reporters on Wednesday that WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanam Ghebreyes had urged anonymous neighbors to “oppose the war and the Tigre People’s Liberation Front (LTF) to take up arms.”
There was no immediate reaction from WHO headquarters or from Tedros.
The TPLF, the political party that runs the Tigris region, has been clashing with Ethiopian federal forces. The country’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister has accused the heavily armed regional government of attacking military bases. After months of political reform, each government outlaws the other.
The conflict threatens to strip Africa of its second most populous country and destabilize the strategic Horn of Africa region.
The army chief reminded reporters of the TPL’s close links to the TPLF, which Ethiopian government leaders now consider illegal. Tedros was foreign minister and health minister when the TPLF dominated the country’s ruling coalition. Jula asked: “What do you expect from a person like her?”
On Thursday, Redwan Hussein, a senior Ethiopian official, told reporters that Tedros “never tried to reach out to our government to find out how this (contradiction) arose and to get a briefing,” or asked how they would use it.
The WHO chief “smiles and shouts and calls on a number of leaders and organizations … to force the government to sit down and negotiate,” he added. On the next steps, he added, “We’re still making this worse.”
Matsidiso Moti, head of WHO Africa, defended Tedros during a Covid-19 briefing on Thursday but did not address the allegations directly.
“All I can say in response is that I know Tedros, I know him as someone who is enthusiastically promoting global health, promoting people’s health and promoting peace,” Moti told reporters. “I think this is the limit of my knowledge of Tedros as a person.”
For more, he mentioned reporters in his fees.
The Tigre area is cut off from most of the world with communications and transport links, making it difficult to verify the claims of both parties about what is happening there. No one knows how many people have been killed, and about 30,000 refugees have fled to Sudan.
Ethiopian officials and the Tigrian people have issued a string of allegations in the conflict, often without providing evidence, in an attempt to win the narrative battle and to win their favor. Governments and human rights groups alike have called for the rapid restoration of communication links with Tigre, and no restrictions on the media to achieve greater transparency.
As Ethiopia’s health minister, Tedros has been widely credited with implementing training for thousands of health workers, strengthening the country’s laboratory network and reducing deaths from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
But during his campaign to become director general of the WHO, he was accused by a leading U.S. public health educator of hiding three outbreaks of cholera in Ethiopia when he was health minister. At the time, Tedros dismissed the allegations as a “last-minute smear campaign.”
International health law requires countries to report cholera outbreaks to the WHO, but some countries avoid doing so for fear of damaging trade and travel.
Human rights groups have also expressed concern over the fact that Tedros was widely criticized in the government for its crackdown on protesters and its use of force, including the imprisonment of rivals.
Tedros has acknowledged that the government has made some serious mistakes but that Ethiopia is a “unique democracy”.
Maria Cheng in London contributed to this report.
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