He added, “I have already sent other Fathers, now I am remaining alone with the watchmen. I will see if I can also run away tomorrow… We are humbly asking for your prayers for peace and security in our region, as well as other types of support.”
ACN reports that until the end of October, the Priest was based in the Ethiopian town that is located on the outskirts of the Amhara region, close to Tigray, and about 380 km north of the capital Addis Ababa.
The town, the charity foundation reports, was flooded by thousands of people fleeing the conflict zone, with even more in neighboring towns such as Dessie.
As the days went by, initial worries of how to provide food and humanitarian aid to the internally displaced people (IDPs) turned to concern over fighting, which kept growing closer.
The Priest said that people who had relatives in the capital sent their children and wives away, adding, “We also sent some of our Seminarians to Addis Ababa, but we, the Priests, stayed to be with the people who fled, to see how things developed.”
“We saw much suffering,” the Priest narrated, and explained, “Many people were killed and others had to flee and required food, water, medicine, and places to stay. Our small town of Kombolcha had over 4,000 IDPs. We did what we could to gather food, blankets, and water but it was just a drop in the ocean of necessity. But as they say, it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”
He further recounted that in the final days of October, however, the situation became worse as fighting drew closer, with Tigrayan forces pushing back a government offensive and taking Dessie and Kombolcha. It was at this point that the missionaries were forced to leave.
ACN reports that the remaining refugees managed to escape Kombolcha before the arrival of the Tigrayan forces and made it 50 km South, towards Addis Ababa, before having to stop because the road was blocked. But the missionary Priest was able to inform ACN that they are safe, adding, “I am out of danger. The roads are full of people.”
Fighting between the majority Amhara Government soldiers and Tigrayan forces began on 4 November 2020 and saw the involvement of the Eritrean military.
ACN reports that the reasons for the war are complex, adding that the results have been especially tragic for the civilian population.