Ethiopian Church engaged in efforts for peace and stability
By Benedict Mayaki, SJ
The conflict in Ethiopia which has pitted the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its allies against the country’s government for over a year has caused thousands of deaths, massive destruction of infrastructure and a humanitarian situation that has forced over a million people to flee for their lives and put over 5 million in desperate need of food aid.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Bishops of Ethiopia have highlighted the Church’s continuous efforts geared towards the restoration of peace in the country and the provision of humanitarian aid since the outbreak of the conflict
The Church, the Bishops say, “is an institution who prays and works for peace and fraternity in the world and in the country she is present.” Therefore, the Church “not only prays for peace but also all her missionary work is directed towards peace among human beings and peace between human beings and God.”
The Bishops point out that since the start of the war, the Church in Ethiopia “did not keep silent and made continuous public statements” which denounced the fighting, the loss of lives and property and the consequent massive displacement, among other things.
Of these public statements, they highlight three in particular in which they appealed to the parties fighting to “stop the war and choose the path of dialogue and create a conducive environment so that the people could live in peace and get their daily supplies smoothly.”
The three statements include, “Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called Children of God (6 November 2020); “But I shall look to the Lord, my hope is in the God who will save me, my God will hear me” (17 July 2021), and “God will wipe every tear from their eyes” (16 December 2021).
Prayers, appeals, resource mobilization
In addition to statements, the Church has also invited all the faithful and people of good will to join in prayers for peace for the country, including engaging in fasting on different occasions, the Bishops noted.
More so, the Church has busied herself with appeals and mobilized resources to support humanitarian aid to the people in the affected regions, including Tigray, Oromia, Afar and Benishangul Gumuz.
Furthermore, the three plenary assemblies of the Bishops Conference of Ethiopia within the last year and a half have focused on the response of the Church to the ongoing conflict. In fact, during the last assembly in December, the country’s bishops approved a budget of 100 million Birr to be raised internationally and locally. Appeals were made to partners and the secured funds are already being put to use for humanitarian assistance.
Respect for human dignity
In light of the conflict situation, the Ethiopian Bishops express their sadness to see the suffering of the people and reiterate their appeal that the dignity and rights of every human be protected wherever they are.
They also restate the Church’s commitment to continue to work to reduce the suffering of all without partiality, and note that the Church is attentively following “all professional and legal impartial studies underway on the alleged human right abuses attached to the war in all conflict areas.”
Finally, the Bishops renew their appeal to the warring sides to “drop their guns and start genuine dialogue for the interest of the people and enable them to live in peace.”
“If war is not thrown out of Ethiopian history by Ethiopians,” the Bishops warn, “it will be the war to throw out Ethiopians from history.”