Let’s “not wait until context worsens”: Cardinal in Ethiopia on Country’s Crises, Supports Humanitarian Response Plan

The people of God in the Horn of Africa nation of Ethiopia are facing multiple crises with far-reaching impacts, Berhaneyesus Demerew Cardinal Souraphiel of the Catholic Archdiocese of Addis Ababa Archdiocese has said.

In a statement ACI Africa obtained on April 24, Cardinal Souraphiel warns, “The time is now! We should not wait until the context worsens before sounding an alarm that we are on the verge of something potentially disastrous, as we may only be one or two failed rains away from a truly dire situation”. 

“We call on all parties to recommit now, redouble our efforts and commit ourselves to fully funding Ethiopia's Humanitarian Response Plan before things get worse, potentially much worse,” the Ethiopian Cardinal says in his statement dated April 9.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), “At least 21 million Ethiopians shoulder the weight of multi-faceted, often overlapping, humanitarian situations driven by man-made and natural hazards, including conflict, climatic shocks (drought and floods), and disease outbreaks.”

The Horn of Africa nation has “been affected by recurring droughts, increasing in both duration and frequency. Caused by five consecutive failed rainy seasons, the prolonged (late-2020-2023) drought in the eastern and southern parts of the country was considered the most severe the country has seen in 40 years,” according to OCHA.


The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has reported that one in six of Ethiopia's 120 million girls, boys, women and men need life-preserving assistance as a result of conflict, drought, flooding, and disease outbreaks.

In his statement, Cardinal Souraphiel highlights the challenges in the country, saying, "Our sisters and brothers around the country are suffering terribly from malnutrition, and we are heartbroken by stories of desperation, disease and death.”

“With support from many partners around the world, and having a long track record in successfully addressing food security issues, we are doing our utmost to provide as much as we can with the resources available and many donors and organizations on the ground are delivering life- preserving aid as well. But it is simply not enough,” the Local Ordinary of Addis Ababa, who doubles as the President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Ethiopia (CBCE) says.

He goes on to highlight Pope Francis’ response to Ethiopia’s multiform crises. 

“As His Holiness Pope Francis stresses, we can dream of a future without hunger ... but only with real commitments,” the Ethiopian-born member of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians/CM) says.

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He appeals, “Ioin us in committing the necessary resources for girls, boys, women and men to survive, as well as to recover and build a more resilient, just and peaceful future in Ethiopia.”

Chia Ireneaus Chongwain contributed to the writing of this story

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