As armed conflict among rival ethnic groups in the northeast African country of Ethiopia spikes, the nation’s ability to combat the coronavirus pandemic is undermined, says CNEWA’s president, Msgr. Peter Vaccari.
In an article in the English-language edition of Aleteia, a Catholic news site, Msgr. Vaccari said the agency’s Addis Ababa-based office is monitoring the situation carefully as CNEWA’s “grave concerns over the situation” continue to grow.
“We join our prayers to those expressed recently by Pope Francis and other international bodies, and we share the concerns expressed by the Secretary General of the United Nations, OCHA’s concern for the most vulnerable, and the concerns of UNHCR that have pointed to how the current deterioration of conditions has provoked a new refugee crisis,” Msgr. Vaccari said.
The conflict has also postponed the resumption of school in the country, which was scheduled for last Monday.
“While the Catholic Church in Ethiopia is a tiny community — fewer than 1 percent of all Ethiopians are Catholics — the church runs the second largest school system in the country,” he said.
“Our schools are more than places of learning, but safe havens offering children and their families nutritious meals and resources and opportunities otherwise unavailable to the poorest of the poor.”