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Ethiopian army accuses WHO chief of supporting Tigray forces 2020

Ethiopian army accuses WHO chief of supporting Tigray forces

Ethiopian army accuses WHO chief of supporting Tigray forces

Military chief accuses Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus – a Tigrayan – of working to ‘get weapons’ for the regional forces, but did not cite evidence.

Ethiopia’s army chief has accused the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of supporting and trying to procure arms and diplomatic support for Tigray state’s dominant political party, which is fighting the federal troops. He did not cite any evidence.

“This man is a member of that group and he has been doing everything to support them,” the army chief of staff, General Berhanu Jula, said in a televised statement on Thursday.

“He has worked in neighbouring countries to condemn the war. He has worked for them to get weapons,” Berhanu said.

Berhanu said Tedros had “left no stone unturned” to help the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), the party Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said it is targeting in a military offensive in the region.

“What do you expect from him [Tedros]? We don’t expect he will side with the Ethiopian people and condemn them,” Berhanu said.

Tedros – an Ethiopian of Tigrayan descent who served as health minister in a former government coalition led by the TPLF – and the WHO are yet to respond to the accusation.

The 55-year-old was appointed as the first African head of the WHO in 2017 and has become a household name as he grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic. He has been ranked as one of Time magazine’s most influential people.

In a statement on Thursday, the government accused Tigrayan forces of committing “serious crimes” after conflict broke out this month in the northern region, killing hundreds and sending 30,000 refugees into neighbouring Sudan.

The government statement referenced reports of ethnic killings in the town of Mai Kadra, documented by human rights group Amnesty International this week.

Survivors of the reported attack told Amnesty researchers militias affiliated with the local Tigray regional government killed many – even hundreds – of civilians, some of whom were ethnic Amharas.

Information from all sides has been impossible to verify because internet and phone connections to Tigray have been suspended and the government has restricted access to the area.

“As we enter the final phase of law enforcement operations against this group, we would like to remind the leaders of this group that the atrocities that have been committed by their forces and loyalists in places like Maykadra constitute serious crimes both under Ethiopian and international law,” the statement said, using an alternative spelling.