The Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is under fire as world leaders struggle to fight the deadly coronavirus pandemic. His leadership has been questioned by U.S president Donald Trump, who has threatened to withhold funding to the UN agency.
As pressure mounts on the WHO boss to resign for allegedly covering up for China, the Ethiopian in a fiery address on Wednesday revealed that he has come under racial abuses coupled with death threats. Ghebreyesus said already he is being referred to as “black or negro.”
“I can tell you personal attacks that have been going on for more than two, three months. Abuses, or racist comments, giving me names, black or Negro. I’m proud of being black, proud of being Negro … I don’t care to be honest … even death threats. I don’t give a damn,” the WHO boss told the media.
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However, he served notice to his detractors that he is unfazed, but focused on finding solution to the pandemic.
“I don’t give a damn,” Ghebreyesus stressed, adding he decided to break his silence because the whole black community has been targeted. “When it’s personal, even death threats, I didn’t care. When as community, people start to insult us, that’s enough.”
“When it’s personal, even death threats, I didn’t care. When as community, people start to insult us, that’s enough.”— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) April 8, 2020
The WHO’s Tedros Ghebreyesus says he has faced months of racist comments and death threats, but he only spoke out when the “whole black community was insulted”. pic.twitter.com/CyYYvbZ7yZ
Ghebreyesus, a former health minister of Ethiopia, has warned leaders to stop politicizing the pandemic, urging them to rather invest their efforts into allaying the fears of the vulnerable.
“At the end of the day, the people belong to all political parties. The focus of all political parties should be to save their people, please do not politicize this virus. If you want to be exploited and if you want to have many more body bags, then you do it. If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it,” he said.
No time to waste. Let’s focus on saving lives. Collaboration across party lines important to ensure national unity to fight the virus more effectively. National unity is a foundation for global solidarity. When we do this, we quarantine political covid. Stop politicizing #COVID19— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) April 8, 2020
He added: “No need to use COVID to score political points. No need. You have many other ways to prove yourselves.”
Meanwhile, African leaders and the African Union have thrown their weight behind their embattled compatriot, parrying claims that Ghebreyesus is in bed with China.
Totally Agree ,and asking this; Is it Dr.Tedros,WHO,China…under attack or all of them together? Let’s focus on the fight against this pandemic,whoever sh’d be held acc’ntable will come later and done properly. Save us too much politics Africa does not need it. Who does? https://t.co/pNeKIRZGE1— Paul Kagame (@PaulKagame) April 8, 2020
I agree with you, my brother. @WHO, under the stewardship of @DrTedros, has shown itself to be a true flag-bearer of multilaterarism when global solidarity has become critical. Let’s hold hands in this crucial moment and focus on what matters, saving lives. https://t.co/YN34D8lZey— Hage G. Geingob (@hagegeingob) April 8, 2020
The most potent weapon against #COVID19 and its devastating health, social & economic impact is international cooperation & solidarity, which is why the exceptional leadership displayed daily by @WHO & @DrTedros during an unprecedented global public health crisis is incalculable https://t.co/fbN5v4tnqd— Cyril Ramaphosa 🇿🇦 (@CyrilRamaphosa) April 8, 2020