Africa: “My heart breaks” for Ethiopia – WHO’s Tedros

The head of the World Health Organization denies taking sides in the government of Ethiopia’s war with the region of Tigray, which has spilled over into neighboring Eritrea. In a statement, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says, “My heart breaks for my home, Ethiopia.”

When he says, the world “needs peace for health,” he speaks from experience. At the first reports of Ebola in a war zone in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Tedros, as he is known, immediately flew into active conflict from WHO’s Geneva headquarters. With vital assistance from WHO, which credits the courageous work of local doctors and health workers, DRC has now been declared Ebola free, for the first time in three years.

Dr. Roopa Dhatt, executive director of Women in Global Health, tweeted: As someone who has knows @DrTedros, I’m appalled by the latest efforts to undermine his leadership.

A United Nations spokesperson tweeted: From today’s noon briefing [19 November]: @antonioguterreshas the utmost respect for @DrTedros– an exemplary international public servant. He’s guided the@WHOthrough Ebola, #COVID19 & he has always focused on the need to strengthen global public health.

After Ethiopia’s accusation, Tedros tweeted this statement @DrTedros:

My heart breaks for my home, Ethiopia, and I call on all parties to work for peace and to ensure the safety of civilians and access for health and humanitarian assistance to those in need.

I am deeply saddened about reports of casualties and large numbers of people being displaced and seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. In the midst of a global pandemic, I am further concerned about the impact on health.

As a child I have seen the destructive nature of war. I recall vividly the fighting, and the terrible human toll. As an adult, I have used that first-hand experience to always work for peace, to bring warring parties together and to start dialogue to broker peace.

History looks favourably on those that manage to reach across, bridge division and move from war to peace. I join the United Nations Secretary­ General in calling for ”immediate measures to de-escalate tensions and ensure a peaceful resolution to the dispute.”

There have been reports suggesting I am taking sides in this situation. This is not true and I want to say that I am on only one side and that is the side of peace.

The whole world needs peace for health and health for peace.

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