United Nations gets flak for naming Mugabe goodwill ambassador

Henrietta Strickland
October 22, 2017

The World Health Organisation says it is now "rethinking" its decision to make Robert Mugabe a goodwill ambassador.

Mugabe also faces USA sanctions over his government's human rights abuses. I hear your concerns.

Faced with a wage of criticism over the appointment, Ghebreyesus said Saturday that he was "rethinking" his decision.

"The United States government has sanctioned President Mugabe due to crimes against his people and the threat he poses to peace and stability", the US State Department said in a statement.

Director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was thinking again in light of the controversy caused by the announcement.

Two dozen organizations - including the World Heart Federation and Cancer Research U.K. - released a statement slamming the appointment, saying health officials were "shocked and deeply concerned" and citing his "long track record of human rights violations".

Tedros, a former Ethiopian official who became WHO's first African director-general this year, said Mugabe could use the role "to influence his peers in his region" on the issue.

Dr Tedros hailed Zimbabwe as "a country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies to provide health care to all".

The appointment angered rights campaigners and opposition parties, who also accuse Mr Mugabe of violent repression, election rigging and presiding over the country's economic ruin.

Zimbabwean activist and human rights lawyer Doug Coltart said on Twitter that a "man who flies to Singapore for treatment because he has destroyed Zimbabwe's health sector is WHO's goodwill ambassador".

"Amid reports of ongoing human rights abuses, the tyrant of Zimbabwe is the last person who should be legitimised by a United Nations position of any kind", the group's executive director Hillel Neuer said in a statement.

World Health Organization spokesman Christian Lindmeier said the World Health Organization chief had made the move seeking broad support for the agency's work.

The heads of United Nations agencies and the United Nations secretary-general typically choose celebrities and other prominent people as ambassadors to draw attention to global issues of concern, such as refugees and education.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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