A woman fleeing violence in Tigray walks in a camp on the Sudan-Ethiopia border A woman fleeing violence in Tigray walks in a camp on the Sudan-Ethiopia border 

“Aid to the Church in Need”: possible atrocities in Tigray

The Pontifical Foundation, “Aid to the Church in Need”, is warning that hundreds of people are being killed in the conflicts in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and that shops, schools, churches and convents are being looted and destroyed.

By Vatican News staff reporter

Isolation and lack of communication may be screening ongoing atrocities in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

According to Regina Lynch, project manager for Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), those who have been able to visit the area are reporting the possible murder of 750 people in an assault on the Orthodox Church of St Mary of Zion in Aksum last November.

Lynch says it has not been possible to verify the exact details of what would be a real massacre because travel in the region is not currently possible and communications are very restricted.

Terrified population

However, she added, ACN has received confirmation of a series of killings and attacks on innocent people in many parts of Tigray, including in the Aksum area, and she said the population is terrified.

The Tigray region, whose capital is Mekele, is the most northern region of Ethiopia and borders Eritrea and Sudan. About 95 per cent of the population are Christians belonging to the Ethiopian Coptic Orthodox Church and belong to the Tigray ethnic group.

The battle for control of Tigray is in its third month. Fighting for power against each other are the Tigray People's Liberation Front and forces led by the Ethiopian military. Sources say hundreds of people are being killed while shops, schools, churches, convents and homes are being looted and destroyed. 

Fleeing for their lives

About two million have been displaced, with some 60,000 fleeing to Sudan, but others are reportedly seeking refuge in remote areas in the mountains, without water or access to food.

Although the conflict has led to the deaths of hundreds of Christians, analysts say the violence is not motivated by religion but by politics.

Lynch concludes with an appeal for comfort for the ordinary citizens of Tigray who are paying with their lives, isolated from the world in a situation of anguish, threatened by violence and terror.

26 January 2021, 13:41