On the date marking 700 days of war in Ethiopia’s region of Tigray, Bishop Tesfasellassie Medhin of Adigrat restated his call to the local and international community to act to save millions of people.
People must “exercise their moral duty (to) be a voice of the voiceless and enforce international treaties to save more than 7 million lives from vanishing,” Bishop Medhin said in a statement 4 October.
Fighting began again 24 August, shattering a five-month humanitarian truce the government announced in May to allow aid to reach millions of needy people. During the period some food, medicines and other basic needs reached the region.
Bishop Medhin said the Catholic Church in Tigray was urging all the Catholic networks, partners, national and international religious leaders, U.N. agencies, the international community, among others, to condemn the war and move to help the suffering populations.
“It is very painful and shocking to see horrifying … indiscriminate … shelling and bombardment of civilians. As a result, all lifesaving humanitarian operations are totally halted across Tigray,” he said.
“It extremely difficult to move across the rural areas to see what is happening, because there is no fuel,” he said.
When the war started in November 2020, the government put the region under a blockade and cut off basic services, including telecommunication, banking, transport, water and medical care.
The blockade is still in place in the region as the Tigray People’s Liberation Front battles a coalition of armies in a total media blackout. Some analysts have described the fighting as a “world war in Africa.”
The bishop said apart from living through the siege and blockade, it was “heart bleeding” to see over 1.5 million children out of school for three years.
He described the Tigray fighting as the largest active war on the planet and urged the world to act to stop the indiscriminate bombardment and to push for unfettered humanitarian access and the restoration basic services. He also wants a cease-fire and political dialogue for lasting peace.
“The Catholic Eparchy of Adigrat … reconfirms its commitment to be in solidarity, prayer and charity with all the people who are going through the inexplicable suffering in Tigray and across the country,” he said.
The war in Tigray started when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali announced military action against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. He had accused the rulers of the semi-autonomous region of attacking a national army base in Mekele, the capital. The rebels denied the allegations.
Fredrick Nzwili writes for Catholic News Service from Kenya.