Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, director of the World Health Organization (WHO), has admitted he is unable to send money to his starving relatives in Tigray, the country’s troubled province.
The Tigray region has been closed off from the outside world since the war broke out in 2020 between the forces of the Tigray region and the troops of the Ethiopian government, with no electricity, phone calls, financial services, or internet access permitted in the territory.
The government of Ethiopia has been charged with enforcing an aid embargo on the area that has prevented vital supplies of food, medication, and help from reaching the area.
Millions of people are in desperate need of food help, and tens of thousands of civilians have died. Nearly half of Tigray’s 5.5 million people, according to the World Food Programme, are in serious need of food.
Fighting resumed this week after months of calm following a truce agreed in March between Tigrayan forces and the Ethiopian government.
Now, Tedros Ghebreyseus who hails from Ethiopia says his relatives are in Tigray and he can’t reach or assist them.
“I have many starving relatives there. I want to send them money. I cannot send them money,” he said in a press conference.
“I don’t know even who is dead or who is alive,” he continued
Dr Tedros, a former Ethiopian health minister, said the situation was worse than that in Ukraine and suggested that racism was behind the difference in the global response.
“I can tell you that the humanitarian crisis in Tigray is more than Ukraine, without any exaggeration. And I said it many months ago, maybe the reason is the colour of the skin of the people in Tigray.”
The Tigray war broke out in Ethiopia’s northernmost region in November 2020 – later spreading south to the Amhara and Afar regions.
Thousands were killed, over two million people fled their homes and some 700,000 people were left living in “famine-like conditions”, the UN said.