Nairobi, Kenya (AP) – The head of the World Health Organization in Ethiopia has accused fellow Ethiopians of forcing the federal government to provide arms and other assistance to the two-week-old militant Tigris region. . He did not cite any evidence.
General Birhanu Jula told reporters on Wednesday that WHO Director-General Tetros Adanom Caprais had asked unnamed neighbors to “fight the war (Tigre People’s Liberation Front) and get weapons.”
There has been no response from WHO headquarters or Tetros.
The DPLF, the political party that runs the Tigre region, is in conflict with the Ethiopian federal powers. The Prime Minister, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for the country, accused the armed regional government of attacking a military base. Each government considers one month after another in the midst of political reforms to be illegal.
The conflict threatens to tear apart Africa’s second most populous country and destabilize Africa’s strategic horn.
The military chief reminded reporters of Tetros’ close ties with the DPLF, which Ethiopian leaders now consider illegal. Tetros was foreign minister and health minister when the DPLF dominated the country’s ruling coalition. Zula asked: “What do you expect from someone like him?”
On Thursday, Tetros, a senior Ethiopian official, told reporters that Tetros had “never tried to reach our government, did not explain how this (conflict) escalated” or how he could be used.
He added that the head of the World Health Organization would “call on many leaders and organizations … to put pressure on the government to sit down and negotiate.” In the next stages, he said, “we’re still clearing it.”
WHO Africa President Matzidiso Moetti supported Tetros during a COVID-19 conference on Thursday, but did not directly state the indictment.
“I know Tetros as a respondent. I know him as someone who passionately promotes global health, promotes good health of the people and promotes peace,” Moyati told reporters. “I think this is the level of my knowledge of Tetros as a person.”
Also, he referred reporters to his office.
The Tigre area is often disconnected from communications and transport links, making it difficult to verify both sides’ claims about what is happening there. No one knows how many people were killed and about 30,000 refugees entered Sudan.
Ethiopian officials, including Tigray, have issued accusations of conflict, often without providing evidence, in an attempt to win the story war and gain support for their side. Governments and human rights groups alike have called for the speedy restoration of communication links with Tigre, and for the media to have no limits and to allow transparency.
As Ethiopia’s Minister of Health, he implemented training for tens of thousands of health workers, strengthened the country’s laboratory network, and made Tetros proud to reduce deaths from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
But during the campaign to become the Director-General of the World Health Organization, he was accused by a leading American public health educator of covering up three cholera outbreaks in Ethiopia when he was health minister. At the time, Tetros dismissed the allegations as a “last-minute smear campaign.”
International Health Law compels cholera to be reported to the World Health Organization, but some countries avoid doing so for fear that it could trigger harmful trade and travel restrictions.
Tetros has served in a government widely criticized for its repressive tactics, including violent repression of protesters and the imprisonment of rivals by human rights groups.
The government has made some serious mistakes, but Tetros acknowledged that Ethiopia is a “new democracy.”
Maria Cheng in London contributed to this report.