Displaying items by tag: Ethiopia
UNICEF is underscoring the need for continual aid for children amid a worsening situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. Five months since the conflict began, a picture is emerging of killings and sexual violence against women and children. UNICEF reports schools and health centres looted, vandalised, and occupied by armed groups. In addition, deliberate attacks of violence and looting have left 60% of health care facilities not operational. 57% of boreholes (providing water) in 13 towns are not functional, and a quarter of the region’s schools have sustained damage. Although UNICEF and partners give humanitarian aid to the needy, there are urgent needs for children’s protection. Fighting, media blackout, and government-imposed restrictions leave humanitarian organisations unable to provide adequate aid, and they have had difficulty accurately gauging the need. Basic service outlets must be protected and the safety and security of everyone working in and accessing those services guaranteed.
Up to 1,000 people – including priests and church leaders – were killed in recent attacks in Ethiopia. A Belgium-based nonprofit organisation released reports of 1,000 people hiding in an Orthodox church in Aksum, thought to contain the Ark of the Covenant. They were brought out and shot in the square. 750 were definitely murdered, and possibly more of the injured died later. Inside Ethiopia there is political conflict. The government’s term of office ended in September, and the May elections were cancelled due to coronavirus. This has created political unrest where Christians and Muslims are dying in a long line of fatal assaults against innocent people in the Tigray region. 154 were killed in December in Maryam Dengelat, and ten from one family were killed on Christmas Day. Also, Eritrean troops have been killing dozens.
Ashenafi Hailu was racing on his motorcycle to the aid of a friend trapped by the Ethiopian government’s military offensive in the Tigray region when a group of men on foot confronted him, identifying themselves as militia members of a rival ethnic group. They dragged him by a noose to save bullets. As the noose tightened around his neck he thought he would die. He passed out and awoke alone near a pile of bodies. His motorcycle and cash were gone. Nearly 50,000 Ethiopians fleeing Tigray have sought safety in Sudan, in what the UN called the worst exodus of refugees Ethiopia has seen in over two decades. Reports of looting, ethnic antagonism, and killings are at odds with Ethiopia’s prime minister saying, ‘No civilians are being hurt.’ Worrying prospects are that the fighting is degenerating into a guerrilla war that could unravel both Ethiopia’s national fabric and the stability of the entire Horn of Africa region, including Eritrea and Sudan.
A rocket attack by Tigray forces on Eritrea marks a major escalation of violence as thousands of Ethiopian refugees continue to pour into Sudan. The UN refugee agency says that over 20,000 people have crossed into Sudan from Ethiopia’s northern region, where federal government troops are battling forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the party of the regional government. The conflict, which has spilled over Ethiopia’s borders, threatens to destabilise the wider Horn of Africa region. The latest two-week war has killed hundreds of people. Ethiopia and Eritrea agreed in 2018 to end decades of hostilities, resulting in Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed winning the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. However, there is still a deep-seated animosity between Eritrea and the battle-hardened TPLF over the border conflict.
Survivors of a massacre at a school in the western Oromia region of Ethiopia reported that 54 ethnic Amhara were massacred, probably more. The Amhara are mostly Christians. About 60 armed terrorists, identifying themselves as the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), swept into Gawa Quanqa village, Guliso District at around 5 pm on 1 November. Some survivors were able to flee to a nearby forest while the assailants rounded up women, children and elderly who were unable to run away. Then they shot the defenceless group and burnt 120 houses. ‘This senseless attack is the latest in a series of killings in the country in which members of ethnic minorities have been deliberately targeted’, said Amnesty International.
An Ethiopian Christian leader called for an international inquiry into over 500 Christians killed since the end of June - including pregnant women, children and whole families. The coordinated slaughter was by the Muslim Oromo ethnic group who are members of Qeerroo (meaning bachelors), a male youth movement. In door-to-door attacks, they arrived in cars and, armed with guns, machetes, swords and spears, sought out and slaughtered Christians. Children were forced to witness their parents being brutally murdered with machetes. Some militants held lists of Christians and were helped by local authorities, often run by Muslims, to find individuals, particularly those actively involved in supporting the Church. Oromo ethnic Christians were also targeted. One was beheaded for refusing to deny his faith by tearing off the thread around his neck (worn as a sign of his baptism).
Hundreds of thousands of protesters brought sweeping change to their government in 2018 blaring the music of Hachalu Hundessa, a popular activist singing for the liberation and empowerment of the largest ethnic group - the Oromo. Now 34-year old Hundessa has been gunned down in Addis Ababa, causing massive new protests. By 2 July over 80 were dead. The internet has been cut nationwide. The prime minister, praising the singer, called for calm. Authorities say suspects are in custody, but beyond that little is known about what happened. In a deeply fragmented nation of 105 million people, coronavirus has forced the postponement of August’s national elections. Ethiopians, already in heightened social tension and economic uncertainty, now have to wait until next year to express their grievances and preferences through normal political channels.
Ethiopia is unique. It has its own alphabet and cuisine, and the people do not fit in with either sub-Saharan Africa or the Arabised North African peoples. 98% of the people claim some sort of religious affiliation; there is a spiritual hunger among Ethiopians. Whereas 3% were evangelicals in 1970, by 2015 this figure had risen to 19%. They are becoming Christ’s ambassadors to unreached peoples. The Kale Heywet (Word of Life) church supports 250 missionaries, working among 16 people groups. Wycliffe Bible Translators are working with Ethiopians to translate the Old Testament into the language of the Eastern Oromo people, most of whom are Muslim.
Five new reports - about Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Colombia and the Central African Republic - unmask the multiple domestic, societal and state dynamics used in the persecution of Christian women and girls in each country. When viewed individually, the tactics used - from subtle discrimination surrounding access to education, through to extreme violence - appear unrelated. But now each of these reports, by Open Doors International, catalogues the inter-related web of dynamics and tactics, and highlights the ‘domino’ impact of simultaneous persecuting events. The resulting picture is akin to the anguish caused by a thousand paper cuts, plus (all too often) much deeper wounds. While men often face much more obvious and public forms of pressure and persecution for their faith, women’s suffering is often in daily life. For further information from these reports, click the ‘More’ button.
Eritrea could be on the verge of major change. For 20+ years, it has battled with Ethiopia and Somalia. President Afewerki’s regime conscripts citizens indefinitely into fighting its wars, and represses opposition. Much of Eritrea’s money has gone to defence against enemies, resulting in it being one of the poorest countries, with a mass exodus of Eritreans to Europe part of the biggest global migration crisis since World War II. However, Ethiopia now has a new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed. He has already made a number of significant changes to government policy, including freeing thousands of political prisoners and amending a harsh anti-terrorism law. He has extended a hand of peace to Eritrea and agreed to a peace deal. Thousands of people celebrated, the border is open, embassies will open, and the countries will work together to strengthen ports, resume air flights, open telephone lines, and more. Afewerki’s regime has made Christians suffer as the 6th worst persecuted in the world, but Abiy has recently released 35 Christians from prison. Pray for Islamic extremists in the region to lose their power due to his influence.