People fleeing ongoing fighting in Ethiopia People fleeing ongoing fighting in Ethiopia 

Seven detained Tigrayan nuns released in Ethiopia

Six religious sisters of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent and an Ursuline nun were released by Ethiopian security forces on 15 January after over 40 days of detention.

By Lisa Zengarini

Seven Catholic ethnic Tigrayan nuns arrested by Ethiopian security forces in November last year have been freed and are reportedly in good health conditions.

The Vatican's Fides News Agency reported that Sisters Letemaryam Sibhat, Tiblets Teum, Abeba Tesfay, Zaid Moss, Abeba Hagos, and Abeba Fitwi of the Congregation of Sisters of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, and Ursuline Sister Abrehet Teserma, were released on 15 January. 

Two deacons and two nuns still detained

The nuns had been abducted on 30 November, in the context of the 14-month war over the Tigray region. The two Deacons arrested with them and two other nuns from Kobo are still detained along with thousands of ethnic Tigrayans, and even Eritrean refugees, suspected of supporting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Crackdown on suspects

In the crackdown against suspected rebels, a number of Catholic religious and lay people have also been arrested.

On 5 November, a Salesian education center in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa was raided by military forces, and 17 religious and lay people were taken away in a van. They were released on 13 November after been interrogated. 

Civil war in Ethiopia

War erupted in Ethiopia on 4 November 2020, after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched an offensive against the separatist Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) following an attack against federal military bases.

Ahmed promised a swift victory, but the fighting has escalated into a widespread conflict involving ethnic-based militias as well as Eritrean armed forces, with reports of serious human rights violations on both sides.

Humanitarian crisis

The conflict eased slightly during the Christmas period, after TPLF declared a unilateral ceasefire and its withdrawal from the Amhara and Afar regions in what the group called a gesture of willingness to start negotiations.

The situation, however, still remains tense, while the humanitarian crisis in Tigray continues to grow, with seven million people with no food, healthcare,  medicines and electricity.

Meanwhile, the Nobel Committee has urged Prime Minister Abiy, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, to commit to end the war.

Over 2 million people have been displaced as a result of the conflict  and famine has been officially declared in the region.

18 January 2022, 12:47