Catholic Bishop Appeals to Parties in Ethiopia’s “silent genocide” to End Violence

Bishop Tesfaselassie Medhin of the Catholic Eparchy of Adigrat in Ethiopia. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Bishop of the Catholic Eparchy of Adigrat in Ethiopia has decried the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country’s embattled Tigray region, and called upon those who are behind the massive loss of lives in the region to work fast to resolve the situation.

In a message that was shared with the information service of Propaganda Fide, Agenzia Fides, Bishop Tesfaselassie Medhin describes what is happening in Tigray as a “silent genocide”, which he says can only get worse if nothing is done to end the conflict.

“This continuous situation of silent genocide is consuming every day, minute and hour, an immense number of innocent lives of children, women and men of all ages,” Bishop Medhin says in the Tuesday, July 26 Agenzia Fides report.

He adds, in reference to those he says are involved in the violence in the North of the Horn of Africa nation, “Stop supporting and feeding this stubbornness and instead unblock and restore basic services to the people of Tigray.”

The Ethiopian Catholic Bishop calls on all relevant agencies in the country to put “serious pressure” and undertake measures and a peaceful government dialogue with all the organizations involved in the conflict in order to end the suffering of the people in Tigray.


He says that the Northernmost regional state in Ethiopia that was plunged into war in November 2020 is experiencing “a horrible situation”, which is getting worse.

“We are already witnessing and will witness the horror of a much more serious humanitarian crisis and loss of life in Tigray. Therefore, as part of the larger body of the universal Catholic Church and based on its evangelical values and principles of social justice, we make a new appeal to the federal government, to all governments that support it from abroad, to non-governmental organizations national and international, as well as the companies that are or could be contributing in any way and means to the prolongation of this war, siege and blockade,” he says.

According to the latest assessment by the Tigray Bureau of Education, 346 males and 1,798 females, totaling 2,164 persons in the education sector, have been killed. Out of those, 235 are teachers and other professionals including school principals and supervisors.

According to the July 26 Agenzia Fides report, over 2 million people live in IDP centers in various cities, towns and rural areas of Tigray, including more than 100,000 in Adigrat, without food, shelter, water, medicine and other basic needs.

In an attempt to paint the picture of the suffering in the region, Bishop Medhin says that the people are having “painful daily” experiences.

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“Together with the population, my Clergy, the men and women Religious and lay people of the diocese, I am personally experiencing the suffering of my people and I cannot help but raise my voice against this painful daily life, imploring peace from our loving God in front of whom I kneel every day to pray, and who gave his life 'so that men may have life and have it abundantly,'” he says.

The 69-year-old Catholic Bishop who has been at the helm of Adigrat Eparchy since his Episcopal Ordination in January 2002 explains that though some humanitarian support has found its way in the region that has, for long, remained inaccessible, the needs of the people surpass what has been received.

All basic services, such as land and air transport, telecommunications, banking, remain inaccessible to the locals, he says, adding that basic goods and services are either not available in the market or are extremely expensive, making them inaccessible to the population.

Bishop Medhin says that the lack of fuel and money, coupled with sanctions imposed by the Ethiopian federal government, have prevented humanitarian aid from reaching war-affected people living in various rural and urban districts in the Northern region of Ethiopia.

In the Agenzia Fides report, he highlights the impossibility of the Catholic Church's houses of formation, as well as the institutions that provide service, to provide adequate services to the faithful and to the population in general.


The Bishop says, “It is extremely difficult or impossible to provide the pastoral, educational, health, humanitarian livelihoods, adaptation and mitigation of climate change, provided through sociological development programs.”

“The ongoing siege and blockades by the government and occupation forces have completely isolated us from our pastors and communities, from the rest of the world and from our international Catholic networks. As a result, 5.2 million people are forced to suffer with severe malnutrition, hunger and near famine,” the Catholic Church leader laments.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.