WHO chief describes situation in Ethiopia’s Tigray as horrific

Refugee camp with people in the background Refugee camp with people in the background Photo by Julie Ricard on Unsplash

17 May 2021

WHO chief describes the situation in Tigray, Ethiopia, as horrific, citing people dying of hunger, destroyed health services and rampant sexual violence.

World Health Organization’s Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, described the situation in Tigray, Ethiopia, as “very horrific”. In a press conference on 17 May, the WHO chief pointed out that about five million people in Tigray are in need of humanitarian assistance,  especially food aid. He also condemned indiscriminate killings and the use of sexual violence in the conflict in the region.

The conflict in Tigray began in November 2020 when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into Tigray after accusing the regional governing party of orchestrating attacks on federal army camps. The Prime Minister declared victory later that month when the army entered Mekelle, the capital city of the Tigray region. However, the fighting has continued and hundreds of thousands have been  displaced from their homes, including more than 60,000 who fled into Sudan.

The WHO chief noted that health services have been looted and destroyed, with the majority no longer functioning. He commented that while there were no services to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, it was not a priority given the other pressing issues. One of the most pressing issues is getting humanitarian workers full access to the region. Aid groups and world leaders have called for full humanitarian access to critical areas, with the European Union denouncing the use of humanitarian aid as a weapon of war.

Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry  said in a statement that while "[t]he difficulties in accessing certain pocket areas were indeed due to security problems [...], these problems have now been resolved. " The Ministry  also stated that the government was committed to investigating rights abuses and denounced “unfair and unwarranted accusations against Ethiopia”.


To know more, please read:



Author: Irina Kovacevic; Editor: Catherine Meunier

Read 643 times