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Ethiopia wants WHO chief Tedros probed for "misconduct"

FILE - Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), talks to the media regarding the coronavirus COVID-19 and WHO's global health prior   -  
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Salvatore Di Nolfi/AP


The Ethiopian government has accused the World Health Organization director of “misconduct“ after he criticized conditions in the Tigray region.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was nominated by the Ethiopian government to be the head of the U.N. health agency four years ago, but claims he has “not lived up to the integrity and professional expectations”. He has been accused of interfering in Ethiopia's internal affairs, according to a press release issued on Thursday by the Ethiopian ministry of foreign affairs.

“Through his acts, (Tedros) spread harmful misinformation and compromised WHO's reputation, independence, and credibility,” the statement reads.

Tedros, has on many occasions criticized the situation in his home country and called for humanitarian access to the conflict-ridden region of Ethiopia.

“Nowhere in the world are we witnessing hell like Tigray,” said Tedros at a media briefing Wednesday.

He made reference to a memo WHO had received recently from a physician in the region, which indicated, health authorities had run out of basic medicines for diseases including diabetes and were now using expired stocks and intravenous fluids.

Tedros accused Ethiopia of blocking international access to Tigray, saying that WHO had not been allowed to send any supplies to the region since July.

However, The Ethiopian government perceives this Tedros was using his office “to advance his political interest at the expense of Ethiopia” and said he continues to be an active member of the Tigray People's Liberation Front; Tedros was foreign minister and health minister when the TPLF dominated the country’s ruling coalition.

Food shortage

On Friday, the U.N. World Food Program warned its food assistance in northern Ethiopia is “about to grind to a halt because intense fighting has blocked the passage of fuel and food." No WFP convoys have reached the Tigray capital since mid-December, it said in a statement, “and the last of WFP’s cereals, pulses and oil will be distributed next week.” Stocks of nutritionally fortified food to treat malnourished children and women are depleted, it said.

“We’re now having to choose who goes hungry to prevent another from starving,” said Michael Dunford, WFP’s regional director for Eastern Africa. The WFP says nearly 10 million people need food assistance.

In a separate statement on the war, the U.N human rights office said at least 108 civilians have reportedly been killed in Tigray this year by airstrikes “allegedly carried out by the Ethiopian air force.” It warned of possible war crimes.

The airstrikes have continued despite a shift in the war in recent weeks, with the Tigray rebels retreating into their region and Ethiopian forces saying they wouldn't pursue them further there. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has spoken of reconciliation and national dialogue.

In September, France, Germany and other European countries nominated Tedros for a second term as WHO's director-general, the first time any candidate was not supported by his or her home country. Tedros is expected to be confirmed for another five-year term in May, as he is running unopposed.

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