The World Health Organization says a variety of crises are adversely affecting the health of millions and blocking essential humanitarian aid in war-torn hotspots around the world.
War, climate disasters and COVID-19 are threats to global health and are undermining the ability to build and maintain economically viable and stable societies. These many crises are most pronounced in war-torn countries.
Ukraine, once a prosperous society, is now torn apart. Since Russia’s invasion 51 days ago, thousands of civilians, including children, have been killed or injured.
The WHO has confirmed 119 attacks on health care workers and facilities since the start of the war. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said health services were severely disrupted, especially in the east of the country, which is now the epicenter of the fight.
“For the sake of humanity, I urge Russia to come back to the table and work for peace,” he said. “Meanwhile, humanitarian corridors must be established so that medical supplies, food and water can be delivered, and civilians can proceed to protect.”
On another front, the World Food Program says 4.6 million people in northern Ethiopia’s Tigre province suffer from acute hunger. Hundreds of thousands are reportedly on the verge of famine.
Ethiopia’s government called for a humanitarian ceasefire three weeks ago. Despite this, WHO chief Tedros said the longest blockade in the country’s history continues. He said some life-saving material is reaching the tigre.
“In fact, the siege by Ethiopian and Eritrean forces continues,” he said. “To prevent a humanitarian disaster and hundreds of thousands of people dying, we need free humanitarian access from those who strengthen the siege.”
Tedros warns the Horn of Africa and the Sahel are at high risk of famine. He said conflict, years of drought, heavy floods and COVID-19 have destroyed people’s ability to cultivate land, grow their crops and raise their cattle.
He said that many people are already starving and lakhs of people are migrating. He expressed concern about the impact of this humanitarian crisis on people’s health and regional security.