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Pope Francis Concerned about Humanitarian Crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region

A map showing the Tigray area in northern Ethiopia. Credit: Public Domain

Pope Francis has expressed concerns about the humanitarian crisis occasioned by the ongoing unrest in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

In the Sunday, June 13 Angelus at the Vatican, the Holy Father offered his prayers for people in the Horn of Africa nation who seem exposed to famine.

Addressing the faithful who gathered at St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said, “The suffering, which has been occasioned by a serious humanitarian crisis, in Ethiopia could expose poor families to famine.”

He went on to note that the continued fighting has deprived people of food and that “there is already famine in the region.”    

The Holy Father urged the faithful to remember those affected by the ongoing violence, food shortage, and healthcare deprivation.

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He acknowledged with appreciation those reaching out to the affected not only in Ethiopia but also migrants attempting to cross dangerous waters and children who are forced into labor.

“I thank all those who are involving themselves in the task that is to alleviate suffering of people in areas experiencing suffering,” Pope Francis said June 13, adding, “I also pray for those who are daily crossing the dangerous Mediterranean Sea and those who are forced into child labor.”

The ongoing conflict in the Tigray region started early November last year when forces from the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) launched an attack on Ethiopia’s Federal Government Army base in the region.

TPLF and people in the Tigray region are opposed to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s bid to centralize power in Africa's second most populous country.

Having the country under a single central political party is seen as a threat by TPLF and Tigray to their autonomous rule that has lasted for 30 years.

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According to the United Nations, more than five million people mostly in the Tigray region are in need of an urgent humanitarian intervention.  

The Ethiopia’s army offensive into Tigray region has also raised concerns over excessive force meted against unarmed and innocent people. Thousands of women, some of them Catholic Nuns, have been sexually assaulted and raped.