“We are in a dire situation”

Refugees from the Tigray region © Nariman El-Mofty

The Catholic bishop of Adigrat, Tesfaselassie Medhin, has recalled the "brutal warfare" in the Ethiopian region of Tigray. A humanitarian catastrophe was taking place here, he said, and the international community could not look the other way.

The bishop told missio Munich. The aid agency said Tuesday that there is an urgent need for assistance with medicine and food, according to Medhin.

"International non-governmental organizations must be given access so that the public can learn the truth about the all-encompassing destruction, the sexual violence and the enormous need of the people," the bishop said. Fighting has now continued unabated for the fifth month. Civilians are being killed in many places in Tigray, which is occupied by the armies of Ethiopia and Eritrea, he said. Drones were also used, he said.

Not enough food for internally displaced people

"We are in a dire situation," says missio Munich's longtime project partner. The first aid supplies have arrived, but so far they have only been distributed in a few places. Because 80 percent of the area is inaccessible due to fighting and roadblocks, he said. The bishop himself said he had no contact with parishes for three months from the end of October. He has only recently been able to establish contact with a few low lines, but there is still no communication with six parishes.

The parish of the town of Adua had asked for assistance because it no longer had enough food for about 35.000 internally displaced persons, Medhin said. The latter had fled the fighting and killings in the west and some interior parts of Tigray. More than 60.000 more people fled from the border areas in the west to Sudan, according to the bishop, and are seeking protection there. It is difficult to provide for the people in Tigray, because in most places the power supply has collapsed, and banks are still closed in many places.

The conflict between the government in Addis Ababa and the Tigray People's Liberation Front, long influential in Ethiopia, had escalated militarily by early November, according to reports. Since then, Tigray has been practically cut off from the outside world. There is still no internet connection, only recently have phone calls been possible again.
Since then, reports of massacres of civilians have been mounting in the region, which is home to some six million people.

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Christina Cherry
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