The World Health Organization’s chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has recalled the pain of his wartime upbringing in Ethiopia as he pleaded with global leaders to unite for peace.
The WHO has called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas for the safe delivery of food, medical supplies, and other aid into the Gaza Strip. Tedros said on X, formerly Twitter, that he was making “a humble plea for ceasefire and peace.”
“As a child trapped in the shadows of war, I intimately knew its smell, sounds, and sights. I empathize deeply with those now caught in conflict, feeling their pain as if it were my own,” he said. War brings only devastation, horror, and destruction. Nothing else.
“In this critical moment, let us rise above the divisions and embrace the path of peace. The truest display of courage lies in choosing peace. I call on world leaders to unite and lead the world toward peace.”
Tedros has condemned the “unjustified and horrific” Hamas attack and has said “children are paying the price” in the bombardment of targets in Gaza. When reelected for his second WHO term in May last year, Tedros, 58, recalled his humble upbringing as “a child of war … from a poor family.”
With a trembling voice, he recalled experiencing conflict at a very young age as he described how the strong emotions came rushing back during a recent visit to Ukraine.
“When I saw the kids, it was the image from more than 50 years ago that came to my mind; so visible, so haunting; the smell of war, the sound of war, the image of war,” he said, in tears.
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