The World Health Organization says a variety of crises are adversely impacting the health of millions and blocking needed humanitarian aid in war-torn hotspots around the world.   

War, climate disasters, and COVID-19 are threatening global health and undermining the capacity to build and maintain economically viable and stable societies.  These multiple crises are most pronounced in war-torn countries.

Ukraine, a once thriving society, is now shattered. Since Russia invaded 51 days ago, thousands of civilians, including children, have been killed or injured.

The WHO has confirmed 119 attacks on health care personnel and facilities since the start of the war there.  WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said health services are severely disrupted, particularly in the east of the country, now the epicenter of the fighting.

“For the sake of humanity, I urge Russia to come back to the table and to work for peace,” he said. “In the meantime, humanitarian corridors must be established so that medical supplies, food, and water can be delivered, and civilians can move to safety.”  

On another front, the World Food Program says 4.6 million people in the embattled Tigray province of northern Ethiopia are suffering from acute hunger.  Hundreds of thousands reportedly are on the verge of famine.

The Ethiopian government called a humanitarian truce three weeks ago.  Despite this, WHO chief Tedros said a blockade, one of the longest in the country’s history, continues. Few life-saving supplies, he said, are reaching Tigray.

“In effect, the siege by the Ethiopian and Eritrean forces continues,” he said. “To avert the humanitarian calamity and hundreds of thousands more people from dying, we need unfettered humanitarian access from those reinforcing the siege.” 

Tedros warned the Horn of Africa and Sahel are at high risk of famine. He said conflict, years of drought, heavy flooding, and COVID-19 have destroyed peoples’ ability to cultivate the land, grow their crop and raise their cattle.  

He said many people are already starving and millions are on the move. He expressed concern about the impact this humanitarian crisis is having on peoples’ health and on regional security.

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