AFRICA/ETHIOPIA - Card. Souraphiel: "Dialogue, solidarity, international relations: the Church works for the good of the nation"

Friday, 24 July 2020 coronavirus   dialogue   human rights   politics   society   peace  

Addis Ababa (Agenzia Fides) - "We are living in a climate of tension due to the period of profound transformation and the numerous reforms initiated by the government which, evidently, not everybody agrees. But the Church is present and continually calls for dialogue so that common values prevail and, through the meeting, one works together for the good of the country". Clear words are those with which Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel, Archbishop of Addis Ababa and president of the Commission for National Reconciliation - established by Prime Minister Abiy Ali, Nobel Peace Prize 2018 - entrusts to Agenzia Fides. Speaking of the current situation of Ethiopia, the Country that perhaps best symbolizes the phase of development and democratic transition of the African continent, at the same time oppressed by deep tensions aggravated by the pandemic, the Cardinal thus explains the leading role that the Catholic Church wants to carry out alongside the population: "The pandemic is doing a lot of damage. As a Church, we immediately wanted to dictate behavior guidelines and launch support programs. There have been many losses and, among these, our dear Mgr. Angelo Moreschi, Apostolic Vicar of Gambella, in western Ethiopia: he returned to Italy for health problems, he contracted Covid-19 and died on March 25, 2020. The coronavirus is creating a lot of harmful side effects. One of these is the huge increase in violence against women and children recorded in the lockdown period which still reaps many victims". The Cardinal continues: "A very active group of artists turned to us and we wanted to stand alongside the iniziative “Zim alilin” (“I will not keep silent”), launched by them, in order to turn on a constant spotlight on the phenomenon and prevent and protect those affected. We have made available our commitment to protection from abuse and we are working with our own department dedicated to promoting the campaign and help the victims".
In addition to domestic ones, the Country faces tensions with some neighboring Countries. Among these, one of the most complex concerns is the Great Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile. "Ethiopia is trying to build the great dam on the river which guarantees 85% of the water to Sudan and Egypt. As a Catholic Church, we have expressed a clear position that aims at a just solution for a fair use of these international waters. Ethiopia has a great need for these waters due to the shortage of electricity. About 65% of the Country has great difficulties in obtaining energy and in some remote areas, the population cuts trees to produce fuel energy. If this continues, one will soon come to a worrying desertification: we cannot afford it, the dam is the tool to get out of poverty, to guarantee school accessible to everyone - especially in the lockdown period when it was not possible for many children to connect from home".
On the other hand, the relationship with neighboring Eritrea is completely different which, although among various problems, seems to promise positive developments. On Sunday 19 July there was yet another exchange of visits between Prime Minister Abiy Ali who flew to Asmara to meet Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki. The Cardinal notes: "We are very confident in the steps forward made to break the historic difficulties in relations and we hope for useful developments for the two Countries. There are fundamental issues such as the use of ports and the boundaries to be addressed and the desire is that we do it as two peoples ready to work together as good neighbors". (LA) (Agenzia Fides, 24/7/2020)