The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday that a visit to Ukraine made him aware of a convergence of global crises like the war there, the coronavirus pandemic, a worldwide food and energy crisis and migration and climate issues that need solving with "real global leadership."
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was asked at a webinar on the COVID-19 pandemic by a journalist about the current focus on Ukraine, which he recently visited for three days, prompting him to issue another call to Russia to stop the war.
"Of course, the focus on Ukraine is very justifiable because the consequences of not resolving the Ukraine issue" will leave the world with severe issues with which to deal.
"We were discussing the interlinked problems we saw” during our visit, said Tedros.
"You have the health crisis, which is global, you have the food crisis and inflation and so on because of the conflict," said Tedros.
- Global food producers
There is the energy crisis, the migration crisis, "and there is also the climate crisis," he said, referring to Ukraine and Russia being major global food producers.
"I think a convergence of all these crises at the same time is very, very dangerous for the world. And we call on global leaders to really take these seriously," said Tedros.
The WHO leader noted that conflicts, wherever they are, mainly affect "children and women and the weak ones," and that is what his group had seen in Ukraine.
"On Sunday, I left Ukraine, where alongside my executive director Dr. Mike Ryan and WHO colleagues, we saw first-hand hospitals that have been bombed. We spoke with health workers and we met patients that were physically injured and mentally exhausted," he said.
He said that some of the WHO's Ukrainian staff had lost loved ones and their own homes, but they kept working to support the health needs of the people in the country.
But Tedros said that for everything the WHO is doing, it cannot meet all the needs of people in Ukraine right now.
"What Ukraine really needs more than anything else is peace," said the WHO chief.
"And so, again, we continue to call on the Russian Federation to stop this war.”
"I think we are in a time when we need real leadership," he added.
At least 3,459 civilians have been killed and 3,713 others injured since Russia launched the war on Ukraine on Feb. 24, according to UN estimates. The true toll is feared to be much higher.
More than 5.91 million people have fled to other countries, with some 7.7 million people internally displaced, according to the UN refugee agency.
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