The Bishop of Lancaster has written to Bishop Tesfaselassie Medhin in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, to express the solidarity of Catholics in England and Wales with the region’s current plight.
Tensions between the Ethiopian Government and local separtists from Tigray exploded into violence in November after proposed elections were postponed because of concerns over the spread of Covid-19. Following an alleged attack on a major Ethiopian army base, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered military action against the Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
The resulting fighting has forced 1.5million people from their homes, many fleeing over the border to impoverished Eritrea. In total, nine million have been affected. The region now stands on the brink of a humanitarian crisis, with shortages of food, medicine and clean water. Reports are continuing to emerge of massacres and widespread human rights abuses.
In his message, Bishop Paul Swarbrick, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales’ lead bishop for Africa, reflected on continued barriers to communication between Tigray and the international community, but stated “you will not be forgotten… the Church in England and Wales will continue to stand alongside you and all affected by this conflict”.
He also expressed admiration for the work of the local Church in responding to the crisis, “providing essential humanitarian support to people of all backgrounds and striving to build peace”.
Earlier this year, Bishop Swarbrick called on the UK Government to deliver more assistance for those affected by the fighting and diplomatic support for peace initiatives.
In his letter to Bishop Tesfaselassie Medhin, he reaffirmed the Church’s commitment to humanitarian efforts and “ensuring that our own political leaders hear the cry of the people.”
Picture: Ethiopians, who fled the ongoing fighting in the Tigray region, wait for relief aid at a camp in Kassala, Sudan, on 16th December 2020. (CNS photo/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah, Reuters).