, 24 November, 2020 / 9:00 PM
Catholic Bishops in Eritrea have expressed sadness over the ongoing civil conflict in Ethiopia highlighting the negative effects of war, including loss of lives, displacements, destructions, among others.
In a statement published by Agenzia Fides on Tuesday, November 24, the Prelates in the country which borders Ethiopia call for an immediate cessation of violence and amicable talks between warring parties in the Horn of Africa country.
“War is anti-life and anti-development. On the contrary it kills, maims, destroys, displaces and sows lasting grievances and hatred among people,” the Bishops say.
In further reference to the conflict between the federal government in Addis Ababa and the regional authorities of Ethiopia's Tigray region, the Bishops add, “As spiritual leaders and shepherds of the people of God and fellow citizens, we express our sadness by the recently ignited fraternal war in our neighboring country of Ethiopia.”
The Bishops caution that the ongoing war risks painting a bad image of the country to the rest of the world.
The landlocked Horn of Africa nation has been experiencing clashes since November 4 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed-led government ordered a military offensive against the authorities in the Tigray region, which also borders Sudan.
The military offensive was in response to the alleged attack on Ethiopia’s largest military base located in Tigray’s capital, Mekelle by forces loyal to the region’s government.
The offensive is the culmination of escalating tensions between the authorities of the two regions that started in September when the ruling party in Tigray, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) organized elections in the region, against the advice of the federal government.
The conflict has reportedly killed hundreds so far and displaced many more who have fled the country. More than 40,000 refugees have crossed into neighboring Sudan and roads in Tigray are crowded with people escaping from the fighting.
Meanwhile, forces battling Ethiopia's federal government have vowed to continue the fight in the north of the country, despite a 72-hour ultimatum from the country’s Prime Minister to surrender.
On November 22, Abiy reportedly warned members of TPLF to surrender "within the next 72 hours, recognizing that you are at a point of no return."
Earlier this month, Pope Francis said he was “following with concerns” the conflict in Ethiopia and urged the people of God in the Horn of Africa country to engage in peaceful dialogue to resolve their disagreements.
“I am following with concern the news arriving from Ethiopia. While I urge that the temptation of an armed conflict be rejected, I invite everyone to prayer and to fraternal respect, to dialogue and to a peaceful end to the disagreements,” the Holy Father said November 8 at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican.
The Prelates in Eritrea have warned the aftermath of the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia may be ugly saying, “Once a war starts, no one knows when and where it ends. And in war all the parties are losers and there is now winner.”
In the words of St. John Paul II, Eritrea’s Bishops note, in the November 24 news report, that war does not have any meaningful value, and is always unjust and that it destroys the four pillars of peace – Truth, Justice, Love and Freedom.
In their appeal for peace and dialogue in Ethiopia, the Catholic Bishops in Eritrea call upon “involved peoples” to refrain from what they term as inflammatory words and propaganda that they say is “fanning the fire between the warring sides.”
“In the name of God and for the sake of the involved peoples, we call for immediate cessation of this destructive hostilities and refrain from all the inflammatory words and propaganda that are fanning the fire between the warring sides,” they say.
They add, “We urge all parties to come to the table and resolve the conflict through dialogue.”
"We ask the Clergy, Religious and faithful to commit themselves in prayer. May the Almighty King of Peace and Holy Redeemer bring true reconciliation and peace in our region,” the Catholic Bishops in Eritrea implore.
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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
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