World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says there is a “very narrow window now to prevent genocide” in his home region of Tigray in northern Ethiopia.
Tedros, who previously served as Ethiopia’s health minister and foreign affairs minister, has been sharply critical of Ethiopian authorities throughout the two-year war.
The government has, in turn, accused him of trying to procure arms and diplomatic backing for rebel forces charges he has denied.
In his sharpest comments on the war yet, Tedros told reporters in Geneva that food and health care were being used as weapons of war in Tigray, which is largely cut off from the outside world.
Ethiopian government spokesman Legesse Tulu, National Security Adviser Redwan Hussein and the prime minister’s spokeswoman Billene Seyoum did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The conflict began in November 2020 when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into Tigray after accusing the region’s ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front of attacking federal army camps.
Abiy’s campaign has received the support of Eritrea, with which Ethiopia was at odds until a rapprochement that earned Abiy the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.
A truce between pro-government forces and rebels this year lasted five months before it collapsed in August.