Addis Ababa (Agenzia Fides) - "We have followed with deep concern the deteriorating situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia", says Cardinal Philippe Nakellentuba on behalf of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), in a statement on the conflict in the Ethiopian province of Tigray. The Cardinal said he was concerned about "a growing humanitarian and security crisis not only in Tigray but in neighbouring Eritrea and Sudan; several innocent people have died, while many others have been displaced.
The Bishops of SECAM join Pope Francis' appeal for peace in Ethiopia in his address on 8 and 27 November (see Fides, 9/11/2020 and 1/12/2020), and on 9 November of the Ethiopian Catholic Bishops' Conference for an end to the violence and for peaceful dialogue in Tigray region (see Fides, 6/11/2020)
"We we join them - reads the statement sent to Fides - in passionately pleading for the immediate laying down of arms, on the part of everyone involved in the conflict; that all parties in the conflict resolve their differences amicably through open dialogue, and in a spirit of brotherhood, respect, understanding, and reconciliation". "We further invite Church and civil organizations, and all people of good conscience to provide basic needs like food, water, and clothing to the displaced people, as a sign of solidarity with them".
"Dear brothers and sisters in Tigray region, be assured of our spiritual closeness to you at this moment of crisis and uncertainty about the future. As we continue to pray for you, look up to God with hope; he suffers with you and has not abandoned you. Courage!" concludes the message.
Meanwhile, the concern of humanitarian agencies for the conditions of the population and refugees in Tigray increases. "The humanitarian situation is increasingly critical and it is essential that humanitarian workers urgently assist people", spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Babar Baloch told reporters in Geneva, after a United Nations team was hit by Ethiopian forces and briefly detained on Sunday 6 December. "Some UN staff were detained and some were killed", an Addis Ababa government spokesman said at a news conference, saying UN members were shot for trying to force a third roadblock after passing two without stopping. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 9/12/2020)