Africa-Press – Ethiopia. 19/2022 /ENA/ The political and overtly biased approach of WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom to the conflict in northern Ethiopia has helped to create a warped international view of what has occurred in the country, Health Professionals writing on behalf of frontlines of the war in northern Ethiopia rebuked.
In an open letter addressed to the director general, the signees representing 8 health institutions identified themselves as doctors, nurses and other health professionals working on the frontlines of the war in northern Ethiopia.
“As part of the global medical community, we want to address your actions during the course of the current conflict in Ethiopia and share our sincere concern that you have used your leadership role of a UN agency, mandated to protect global health, to further tensions in Ethiopia and purposefully ignore millions in need.”
Citing that many of them have worked in Afar and Amhara regional states during the conflict, they noted “We have seen first-hand the human cost of the fighting: malnutrition, acute injuries, mutilation, rape and death. Seeing such horrors has become part of our day to day lives.”
The health professionals further stated that they have had to work in the most extraordinarily difficult circumstances with severely limited resources. But, the letter added “throughout we upheld our duty and have done everything we can to save lives.”
According to some statistics from the latest United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs bulletin published on 7th April 2022 to articulate the desperate situation facing these regions, more than 10 million people in Amhara need health services and interventions.
In Amhara, more than 500 health facilities, and 1,706 health posts have been damaged and/or looted due to the conflict and need rehabilitation and support.
In Afar, only 94 health facilities, or 22 per cent of the 414 facilities, are functional, including two hospitals and 31 health centers.
The current situation is a direct result of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and allied forces’ attacks on the people of Afar and Amhara, the signees pointed out.
During the TPLF’s invasion of Afar and Amhara in June 2021, the group undertook a systematic campaign to cripple the region’s health infrastructure as well as injure, rape, and kill civilians.
These crimes have been documented by international organizations such as Amnesty International and the UN. “We have painfully witnessed it ourselves.”
Efforts to bring aid to the regions and Tigray have been severely hindered in recent months by further TPLF attacks. The UK’s Permanent Secretary to the UN in Geneva, Simon Manley, confirmed this on the 8th March, stating “TPLF attacks continue to inhibit delivery of aid across northern Ethiopia.”
The letter further elaborated: “During the conflict, we have looked to the World Health Organization (WHO) for support. Sadly, we have been forgotten. Under your leadership, WHO has ignored the plight of Afar and Amhara. ”
“As a Tigrayan, and as a former Health Minister in the TPLF-led Government, we understand your sympathies toward Tigray. Indeed, we too want to see more aid reach our brothers and sisters there. However, raising the alarm for Tigray should not come at the cost of shutting down the needs of Afar and Amhara.”
It also revealed that the director general has taken a political and overtly biased approach to the conflict. “Your actions and rhetoric have helped create a warped international view of what has occurred in Ethiopia. This has been clear throughout the past 18-months. Every press conference, every statement and every tweet has been designed to raise the alarm for Tigray, quieting the TPLF’s destruction of Afar and Amhara and heighten opposition toward the government of Ethiopia. A simple Goggle search of your comments on the conflict highlights it for all to see.”
In addition the letter stated that the concerned signees were concerned by the director general’s trip to Washington D.C. last month to meet with dozens of US Government officials and representatives.
“It is no coincidence your meetings came at the same time as two bills that seek wide-ranging sanctions against Ethiopia and its people are progressing through Congress.”
Moreover, “there is wide frustration among the Ethiopian medical community that you have consistently refused to engage with the country’s Health Ministry and have ignored the Ethiopian Government’s request for an investigation into your actions as the head of the WHO,” the letter exposed.
“We ask you now, as an Ethiopian, to stop using your considerable influence to further the aims of the TPLF and stop silencing the urgent needs of Afar and Amhara,” it noted, adding that “as the current humanitarian truce holds, instead use your position to improve the health of all Ethiopian people, rather than engage in the politics that has brought so much destruction.”
The letter addressed to the WHO Director General was written by Ethiopian Medical Association, Ethiopian Public Health Association, American Ethiopian Public Affairs Committee, Ethiopian Diaspora High Level Advisory Council on COVID-19, Ethiopian Scholars in Nordic Countries, South African Medical Association, Lesotho Medical Association, People To People, Inc.