The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has denied accusations made by Ethiopia’s army chief that he helped to procure weapons for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
The TPLF is fighting federal troops.
Dr Tedros is Tigrayan and was health minister in a previous Ethiopian government, which was led by the TPLF.
“There have been reports suggesting I am taking sides in this situation. This is not true,” he wrote on Twitter.
“I want to say that I am on only one side and that is the side of peace,” he added.
His comments come after Gen Berhanu Jula said in a press conference that Dr Tedros had “left no stone unturned” to support the TPLF and help get them weapons. He did not provide any evidence to support his allegations.
Hundreds have died in the conflict in Tigray since the beginning of November.
“My heart breaks for my home, Ethiopia, and I call on all parties to work for peace and to ensure the safety of civilians and access for health and humanitarian assistance,” Dr Tedros tweeted.
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) November 19, 2020
Earlier, Gen Berhanu said: “We don’t expect him to stand on the side of Ethiopians and condemn these people. He has been doing everything to support them, he has campaigned for neighbouring countries to condemn the war,” said Gen Berhanu.
“He has worked for them to get weapons.”
After being voted in as the head of the WHO in 2017, Dr Tedros became well known at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and is now arguably the highest-profile Tigrayan abroad.
Meanwhile, US President-elect Joe Biden’s foreign policy aide has appealed for both sides to end the fighting.
“Deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia, reports of targeted ethnic violence, and the risk to regional peace and security,” Antony Blinken tweeted.
The UN’s refugee agency warns that a full-scale humanitarian crisis is unfolding.
More than 30,000 people have crossed the border from Ethiopia into Sudan.