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Ethiopia’s Catholic Church Reports about Religious Leaders’ Solidarity Visit to Displaced

Members of the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia after their visit to displaced persons in Amhara and Afar regions. Credit: Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat/Facebook

Members of the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia have reached out to the displaced persons in Amhara and Afar regions of the Horn of Africa nation in a solidarity visit during which they delivered food items, the Catholic Church has reported. 

A Thursday, January 13 Facebook report by the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat (ECS) of the Catholic Bishops indicates that the delegation had a number of objectives, including to express “solidarity, console the displaced people, and deliver food items to the Emergency and Disaster Prevention offices of each area.”

During the three-day solidarity visit that concluded on January 1, the ECS reports indicates, “Berhaneyesus Cardinal Souraphiel, Metropolitan Archbishop of Addis Ababa and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia and Fr. Daniel Hasso represented the Catholic Church.”

“In their three days trip the religious leaders were able to reach Kombolcha, Dessie and Woldiya,” officials of the Catholic Secretariat say in the January 13 Facebook post. 

They add, “In addition to visiting around the war affected areas and provision of the food items, the leaders also held meetings with local church ordinaries and heads of zonal Emergency and Disaster Prevention offices.”

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“The religious leaders visited hospitals, universities and religious institutes in Dessie, Woldiya and Kombolcha that are looted and totally ruined,” ECS leadership reports, and continues, “The explanations presented by professionals helped the leaders to witness the level of the destructions and damages in the area.”

Ethiopia’s Tigray region has been the scene of violence since 4 November 2020 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed-led government reportedly ordered a military offensive against the authorities in the State.

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.

Residents in Amhara and Afar regions have been greatly affected by the violence.

In the January 13 report, ECS leadership says, “In Woldya, the leaders visited two Orthodox bishops at their residence and shared the difficulties the residents of Woldiya went through. At the same time, they have learned about the negative effects the war left on the life of the people.”

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“The religious leaders on their way back to Addis Ababa, on the 1st of January, 2022, stopped at Kombolcha to visit Selam youth center that is looted and totally ruined; the center is run by the missionaries of Africa,” the leadership of the Catholic Secretariat further reports.

ECS officials add, “In the midst of the war, destructions and looting, it was astonishing to witness how different religious leaders in Woldiya worked hand in hand and served the people regardless of any discrimination.”

“For this, Bishop Ermias, the Bishop of North Wollo, played a great role. Different Muslims and the residents of Woldiya also witnessed the kindness, determination and act of Bishop Ermias,” officials of the Secretariat of the Catholic Bishops in Ethiopia say. 

They note that “the people and representatives of the government offices were grateful with solidarity that the religious leaders shown in visiting the areas, and in providing the food items.”