AFRICA/ETHIOPIA - Arrest of religious men and women engaged in education and charity

Friday, 3 December 2021 religious institutes   civil war  

Adigrat (Agenzia Fides) - "We are in constant contact with Sister Abrehhet Cahasai, Superior of our communities who are in Ethiopia to have news of our arrested sister, together with five other religious and some deacons, last Tuesday, November 30.
We are very worried about their fate. We have no news and we still do not understand the reason for such an act". Reached by Fides, Mother Raffaella Pedrini, Superior General of the Ursulines of Gandino, confirms that the Ethiopian police forces, on 30 November last, organized a blitz aimed at Catholic nuns and religious, taking, among others, sister Sister Abrehet Teserma, of the Ursulines of Gandino.
Forty-eight-year-old Abrehet Teserma is a teacher at the kindergarten in Shola, Addis Ababa, one of the two houses owned by the congregation, in the Ethiopian capital. The Ursulines of Gandino, present in the country since 1967, dedicate a large part of their activity to teaching and health care and have offices located throughout the country: some are in the northern areas, the scene of the terrible conflict that hit Ethiopia just over a year ago. In Adigrat, one of the main mission centers, capital of the state of Tigray, they have 2 kindergartens, a primary school and a secondary school and host approximately 1400 students. "In the north we have three houses, two of which, in Adigrat and Wukro, are in Tigray. We have not been able to talk to our sisters there for a long time. We have no contacts or news. For information, we read the press, updated on the events and are able to find news more easily than us. For the rest, we keep in regular contact with our superior there, Sr Abrehhet Cahasai, who gave us some information in this critical situation. We had also spoken recently and we had no suspicion of imminent danger, we never imagined that an arrest would be made".
Besides Sister Abrehet Teserma, five nuns of the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul and two deacons were arrested. According to observers, the fact that the arrested nuns are of Tigrayan origin could be part of a campaign led by government forces against the Tigrayans, accused of aiding and supporting the rebels of the TPLF (Tigray People's Liberation Front). "Our nuns in Ethiopia are mostly Tigrayans. We are very worried about the fate of our sisters and brothers who have been arrested, and we are in contact with the other congregation affected by the event. We are considering contacting the secretariat of the Ethiopian Catholic Church", concludes Mother Raffaella Pedrini to Fides.
The Congregation of the Ursulines of Gandino (in the province of Bergamo, in Italy, where it was founded in 1818) has 51 houses: 23 in Italy, 2 in Poland, 12 in Eritrea, one in South Sudan, 7 in Ethiopia, 4 in Argentina , 2 in Brazil. In Ethiopia the religious are present in Addis Ababa, Dessié, Kobbo, Wukro, Adigrat, Tullo. (LA-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 3/12/2021)