THE SITUATION IN NORTHERN ETHIOPIA IS
ALARMING. Communication is very precarious and for almost three weeks
the Tigray region has been totally isolated from the rest of the world.
No internet or
telephone. But the news we get from those who have been able to visit
the area is terrible.” This is the assessment by Regina Lynch, project
manager for Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
The Tigray region, whose capital is Mekele,
is the most northern region of Ethiopia and borders Eritrea and Sudan.
About 95 percent of the population are Christians who are part of the
Orthodox Church and belong to the Tigray ethnic group.
“Hundreds of citizens are being killed in the
conflicts in the Tigray region. Nobody knows for sure the number of
dead, but we have been told that there are priests and church leaders
Shops, schools, churches and convents have been robbed and destroyed.
Thousands of people have fled their homes. Many have crossed the border
into Sudan, but others have sought refuge in remote areas, in the
mountains, without water or access to food,” Lynch
News that has spread in recent days in many
media outlets about the possible murder of 750 people in an assault on
the Orthodox Church of St Mary of Zion (Maryam Tsiyon) in Aksum last
according to the local tradition the Ark of the Covenant is kept, Lynch
says that “we have not been able to verify the exact details of what
would be a real massacre. Travel in the region is not currently possible
and communications are very restricted, but
we have received confirmation of a series of killings and attacks on
innocent people in many parts of the region and also in the Aksum area.
The population is terrified.”
According to information received by ACN,
there might have been another massacre with more than a hundred victims
in the church of Maryam Dengelat in December.
Although the conflict has led to the deaths
of hundreds of Christians, sources reiterate that the violence is not
motivated by religion but by politics: due to the COVID19 pandemic the
elections planned for August 29, 2020 were postponed until after the
pandemic, but the nationalist party, People’s Front for the Liberation
of Tigray (PFLT) independently organized—and without the permission of
the national government—regional elections in
Tigray in early September, which created a political crisis that led to
Last November fighting broke out in the
northern region after the Ethiopian prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, sent in
federal troops, who were reportedly joined by Eritrean troops, to fight
This has been confirmed by another source
contacted by ACN, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals:
“Frankly, the problem is that the Eritrean troops have been involved
from the beginning.
The government has denied this, but it is the Eritrean troops who are
committing killings in the east and northwest of Tigray.”
“It is almost impossible to confirm the
figures, but we have received information of people killed by the
Eritrean troops in Irob, in Zalambassa and in Sebeya. I have also heard
of dozens of people,
including priests, killed in a church in Gietelo, Gulemakada,” the same
The isolation of the region makes it very
difficult to send in aid, explains Lynch, who is asking for support for
Ethiopia and especially for the region of Tigray: “It is a political
those who are paying with their lives are the ordinary civilians. This
is a terrible situation.”
“The suffering of so many people must be
alleviated, and comfort must be given to our Christian brothers and
sisters who are isolated from the world in a situation of anguish,
threatened by violence
“At the moment it is almost impossible to
access information, but we are joining in prayer for this country, its
church and its people,” says Lynch
With picture of Regina Lynch. (© ACN)
Directly under the
Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever
they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic
helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and
Founded in 1947 by
Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An
Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over
throughout the world.
undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing
transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church
buildings, funding for priests
and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch
in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need
Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.
For more information contact Michael Varenne at
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-609-0939
or fax 718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.