Fr. Mussie Zerai Yosief, European coordinator for Eritrean Catholics, issues a heartfelt appeal to the Holy See

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Mussie Zerai Yosief urges Holy See to pressure the international community to end the humanitarian crisis caused by civil war.

News Desk (June 21, 2021 10:55, Gaudium Press) – Fr. Mussie Zerai Yosief is the European coordinator for Eritrean Catholics. In a recent interview, released to the Society for African Missions, He put out a heartfelt urgent appeal to “continue to gather information on what is happening in Tigray and inform public opinion with your means of communication. [We need to] urge the Holy See to pressure the international community thanks to its diplomatic network, so it may intervene more vigorously to put an end to this situation.”

Fr Zerai explains that the sanctions imposed by the United States government on the Ethiopian government are not enough. “The massacre of the civilian population must stop; humanitarian corridors must be opened and aid convoys waiting at the borders of the Tigray region must be released,” he noted. “The civilian population has no blame in this conflict: it must not suffer due to the faults of any party or federal government. It is the most vulnerable population that is paying the highest price for this crisis: women, old people, children.”

Catastrophic Humanitarian situation

“The humanitarian situation is catastrophic. People are starving. Many infrastructures have been destroyed. Humanitarian aid fails to reach the population. Furthermore, hospitals have been damaged, medicines are lacking and the Covid pandemic has worsened the whole health care system. And then there is famine, lack of food: in addition to the war, an invasion of locusts has devastated the little harvest that farmers had still managed to cultivate. It is a real humanitarian catastrophe. Hundreds of thousands of people are at risk. A ceasefire has not yet been declared, and so people keep shooting, kill and die. News speak of massacres that continue to be perpetrated: a very serious situation. The efforts of the population to build a future with their work have been destroyed, and we are back to year zero”. And Fr. Zerai emphasized that “The international community must set up an independent commission of inquiry to investigate what has happened in recent months in the region. It needs to be clarified who did what, and why they did it. The guilty must respond to the law of international law of the crimes committed: rape, abuse, torture, arbitrary and free destruction of many goods built with years and years of work and sacrifice”.

Background

Ethiopia was seen as one of Africa’s success stories. Around the mid-1990s, it started moving towards democracy, and from a state of dire poverty, became a model for rapid, effective development. In 2019, its prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, won the Nobel Peace Prize for ending Ethiopia’s 20-year war with neighbouring Eritrea.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ethiopia delayed the federal general elections from 2020 to 2021, allowing Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to stay in office beyond his mandate. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – the dominant party in Tigray – held its regional election in September 2020. Both sides consider the other illegitimate, and the federal government subsequently cut Tigray’s funding in October, which the TPLF called “tantamount to a declaration of war.”

Since early November 2020, the fighting between Ethiopia’s federal troops and the ruling forces in the country’s northern region of Tigray has killed hundreds of people, displaced around 100,000 Tigrayans, and threatened the safety of around 100,000 refugees from neighbouring Eritrea who had been living in camps in Tigray. As a result, over 30,000 people have fled into neighbouring Sudan, with thousands of refugees – many of whom are children – arriving every day.

Ethiopia is one of the oldest Christian states in the world. According to the government’s most recent census from 2007, Christians constitute 62.8% of the total population, with the largest group being Ethiopian Orthodox Christians at 43.5%, followed by Protestants at 18.6% and Catholics at 0.7%. Catholic tradition holds that St. Matthew was martyred in Ethiopia.

(Sourced from Agenzia Fides)

 

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