Be “voice for the voiceless”: Ethiopian Bishop to International Community on Tigrayan War

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

The just resumed war in Tigray, the Northernmost region of Ethiopia, is the largest “our planet right now”, the Bishop of Adigrat in the Horn of Africa nation has said, and called on the international community to be “a voice for the voiceless” Tigrayans experiencing a biting humanitarian crisis in the embattled region.

In a message obtained by ACI Africa on Thursday, October 13, Bishop Tesfasellassie Medhin calls the attention of the world to act to end what he describes as “extreme suffering of the population of Tigray caused by the on-going genocidal war and siege.”

“Extreme brutality has been the hallmark of the ongoing devastating genocidal war in Tigray. No one can assume this magnitude of pain endured by the entire population under siege and total blockage from all basic services for so long,” Bishop Medhin says.

He adds, “In this critical situation we believe that the local and international civilized institutions and peace-loving elements have to exercise their moral duty, be a voice for the voiceless, and enforce international treaties to save more than 7 million lives from vanishing.”

In his message dated October 5, the Catholic Bishop gives details of what he describes as “an existing siege and suffering”, characterized with drone and airplane attacks and “massive indiscriminate rain of artillery” shelling to civilians in crowded places, urban and semi-urban centers, market places, health and education facilities.


The attacks, he says, are destroying innocent civilian lives who he says have lost all means of coping capacity to withstand the “monster terrorism”.

“The continuous brutal shelling and air-bombardment of towns and villages in all districts throughout the nearby northern and eastern border area districts within Tigray, are bringing incalculable destruction of lives and property,” Bishop Medhin says, and mentions regions such as Mekelle, Wukro, Adyabo, Sheraro, Shire, Rama, Adi Daero, Dedebit and Adigrat as some of the places that have fallen under heavy fire.

He appeals to the international community to shift attention to the worrying situation of Tigray, noting that what’s happening in the region “is the largest active war going-on on our planet right now, devouring the largest number of productive human lives.”

Tigray, a region bordering Eritrea, has been described as “the world’s unseen war” that has left 5.2 million people in urgent need of food aid. 

More than 150,000 people have reportedly died from starvation alone, not to mention the indiscriminate killings, rape and other acts of violence in the Tigrayan crisis that began in November 2020. 

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Reports have also emerged of the gross violation of human rights in Ethiopia’s Tigray region where military have been accused of raping women including Catholic Nuns.

The New York Times has reported that the conflict in Tigray is “also huge” but that the world’s gaze is largely fixed on the war in Ukraine.

According to the international media agency, the fighting has surged to its most intense level yet in recent weeks.

In his message dated October 5, Bishop Medhin decries the helplessness of the Tigrayan population where he says all lifesaving humanitarian operations are “almost totally halted”.

He notes that the essential drugs for chronic patients are no more available, adding, “Besides, it is extremely difficult to move across the rural areas of Tigray to see what is happening because there is no fuel and the humanitarian condition is expected to be very dire and requiring some sort of swift action with any possible means to help the people in this desperate situation.”


The 69-year-old Catholic Church leader who has been at the helm of his native Catholic Eparchy of Adigrat since his Episcopal Ordination in January 2002 says that survivors of rape in the embattled region are unable to get post-rape care and are left with their wounds as a result of the complete siege.

“On top of living through this state-planned siege and blockage, it is a heart-wrenching reality…that we are let down to live with over one and half million school children who have been deprived of their right to education for three years,” he laments.

In his appeal for urgent help, the Ethiopian Bishop says, “The Catholic Church in Tigray is urging all the Catholic networks and our Partners, the national and international religious leaders, UN Agencies, organizations, democratic Governments, Peace-loving international community, to condemn these brutal genocidal acts, and reach us by all means that you have at your disposal to alleviate the ongoing inexplicable human suffering of our population.”

He appeals to parties involved in the Tigrayan war to stop indiscriminate shelling and bombardment of innocent civilians, and to allow “urgently” humanitarian access to all parts of the region.

The Catholic Bishop also appeals to the parties in conflict to bring a ceasefire and advance political dialogue to ensure lasting peace in Tigray.

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He expresses appreciation to international agencies and diaspora movements, such as the Tegaru Women for Tigray, that he says are committed to helping alleviate the suffering of the people of God in the embattled Northernmost region of Ethiopia.

“I also remain most grateful to our support-rendering local and international partners, and all who are working for an end of this distressing humanitarian and existential crisis in Tigray as well as elsewhere in the whole country,” Bishop Medhin says.

He adds, “To all those political elites, activists and media – who are realizing the gravity of this situation and are working for positive inspiration and engagements, we acknowledge your noble moves, we urge you, continue doing more on, and we pray that your courageous works will bear fruit.”

“The Catholic Eparchy of Adigrat, which itself is living through this extremely painful genocidal situation in Tigray, as usual re-confirms its commitment to be in solidarity of sympathy, prayers and works of charity with all the people who are going through an inexplicable suffering in Tigray and across the country,” the Ethiopian Catholic Bishop says in his message dated October 5.

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.