WHO chief: 'Colour of skin' may be why Tigray crisis not getting attention


FILE PHOTO: Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) speaks following his re-election during the 75th World Health Assembly at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, May 24, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

LONDON (Reuters) - The World Health Organization's director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has suggested that racism is behind a lack of international attention being paid to the plight of civilians in Ethiopia's war-shattered Tigray region.

Calling it the "worst humanitarian crisis in the world", with 6 million people unable to access basic services, Tedros questioned in an emotional appeal why the situation is not getting the same attention as the Ukraine conflict.

"Maybe the reason is the colour of the skin of the people," Tedros, who is from Tigray, told a virtual media briefing on Wednesday. In April this year at a briefing, he questioned whether "black and white lives" in emergencies worldwide are given equal attention.

WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan also hit out at an apparent shortage of concern about the drought and famine unfolding in the Horn of Africa, and the ensuing health crisis.

"No one seems to give a damn about what's happening in the Horn of Africa," said Ryan, speaking at a virtual media briefing on Wednesday.

The WHO called for $123.7 million to tackle the health problems resulting from growing malnutrition in the region, where around 200 million people live and millions are going hungry.

(Reporting by Jennifer Rigby; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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